Negotiations are ongoing but two sources briefed on the talks tell the New York Times that the NBA and players union are moving closer to an agreement that would resolve the dispute between the two sides over whether any Bird rights would remain attached to players claimed off waivers.

An arbitrator ruled in the union's favor and the league office announced its intention to appeal the ruling, which would create uncertainty just when teams are set to begin contract discussions with the affected players.

A settlement would likely grant some form of Bird rights to players claimed off waivers.  An agreement could be announced Friday but no later than Sunday at midnight when free agency officially opens.

The matter is particularly important to the Knicks who could be granted new exceptions to sign Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak.  Chauncey Billups and J.J. Hickson are also impacted by the rule.

"They're not going into free agency with this out there," said one person with knowledge of the negotiations.