NEW YORK -- Steve Novak is returning to the New York Knicks with a four-year deal worth $15 million. Novaks agent, Mark Bartelstein, said Monday the deal is a reward for a player who finally got his opportunity and took advantage of it. The Knicks claimed Novak after he was waived by San Antonio and he went on to lead the NBA in 3-point shooting at 47.2 per cent. Novak may not have been able to return without a challenge by the union to claim his "Bird Rights," allowing the Knicks to exceed the salary cap to keep him. Previously, players only kept their Bird Rights if traded, but the players association successfully argued that players claimed off waivers should, too. Bartelstein thanked union executive director Billy Hunter and attorneys Jeffrey Kessler and Ron Klempner for fighting for Novaks rights. He said Novak would have got a "really good deal" somewhere, but without the ruling its doubtful it could have come in New York, and staying with the Knicks was his preference. Novak had played sparingly for four other teams in his first five seasons before enjoying a career year in New York. He began to get more playing time off the bench in February, about the time Jeremy Lin was taking over the offence, and his perimeter shooting quickly became a perfect complement to Lins drives. Novak averaged 8.8 points in 54 games. The deal cant be signed until Wednesday after next years salary cap is set. Matt Kalil Jersey
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. Toronto led wire-to-wire en route to their 30th victory of the season, 101-98 over the Chicago Bulls (42-35) at the United Center Tuesday, but nearly coughed up a 16-point fourth quarter advantage to the short-handed home team.EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Although Mike Richards and a couple of his Los Angeles teammates might have information that could help the Vancouver Canucks out of a daunting playoff deficit, dont expect them to give it up. Just two years ago, Richards led Philadelphia out of the same 0-3 series hole now threatening to swallow up the NHLs best regular-season team. Simon Gagne scored an overtime winner in Game 4 and the series-winning goal in Game 7 for the Flyers, while Jeff Carter watched his teammates closely from the press box with a broken foot. Theyre all suiting up now for the Kings, who put the Canucks in this dire predicament heading into Game 4 on Wednesday night at Staples Center. Richards, the former Flyers captain, wasnt sharing any insight Tuesday on what it takes to pull off a feat only accomplished by three teams in NHL history. "I dont remember that far back," Richards claimed with a grin, before acknowledging: "I cant let you know that mindset." Carter also said he cant remember how the Flyers accomplished their feat, and Gagne hasnt played in 2012 due to a concussion. The Kings cant waste time reminiscing when theyre preparing for an unlikely chance to close out the franchises first playoff series victory since 2001. "Its important to understand the desperation theyre going to have, so we bring the same energy and enthusiasm," Richards said. "We shouldnt change our style of play, but we have to bring it to an even higher level if possible." The top-seeded Canucks are still hoping Daniel Sedin can help them out of this jam. Vancouvers leading goal-scorer joined his teammates in practice Tuesday for the first time since missing the last 12 games with a concussion. Coach Alain Vigneault and Sedin wont decide whether hes playing until game time, and Vigneault also hasnt yet named his starting goalie after replacing veteran Roberto Luongo with Cory Schneider for Vancouvers 1-0 loss in Game 3. "No matter who starts, we have to be ready off the puck-drop to play our best game of the year," Luongo said. Never mind the series: Vancouver must win Wednesday just to avoid becoming the first team in the post-expansion era to get swept out of the first round after finishing atop the regular-season standings. Teams with a 3-0 lead have won the series 164 of 167 times, but the daunting statistics have budged a bit in the past two years. Philadelphias historic rally included a comeback from a three-goal deficit in Game 7, and both Chicago and Detroit rallied from 3-0 series deficits last year to force a seveenth game before losing the series.dddddddddddd The Blackhawks loss was in the first round to the Canucks, who have cited that series as evidence it can be done. Yet nobody in a blue-and-green jersey will acknowledge honestly thinking beyond winning Game 4 and forcing the Kings to find their passports for another trip to Canada. "We had a great day off (Monday), and we know where we are and what we have to do," Vancouver captain Henrik Sedin said. "If we get one win, we can bring it back to Vancouver and see what happens." Daniel Sedins potential return alongside his brother could be huge for the Canucks, whose free-flowing style depends heavily on superior skill and teamwork. The Canucks problems are clear: Kings captain Dustin Brown has matched the entire Vancouver roster by scoring four goals in the series, and Los Angeles goalie Jonathan Quick has stopped 111 of the Canucks 115 shots -- far too many from harmless positions outside the Kings sturdy defence. "Were doing all the things we need to do on defence consistently," Quick said. "If we stick to our game and keep it simple, thats how you compete with a team with that much talent." Vancouver hasnt even been able to capitalize on its usually impressive power play, going 0 for 14 in the first three games. Much of that ineptitude must be related to Daniel Sedin, who had 10 goals and 15 assists on the power play in the regular season, but key defenceman Alex Edler also has played poorly in the series. Theres more: Ryan Kesler hasnt scored a goal in 15 games, David Booth has one goal in 14 games, and playmaker Henrik Sedin has one goal in 24 games. "Pucks havent been going in lately, and its been hard to score," said Booth, who hasnt scored in the first three playoff games of his career. "Its intense, though. Its been really exciting, so much fun to play (in the post-season)." While the Canucks hope Daniel Sedin returns, the Kings also could get some depth reinforcements. Brad Richardson, a back-line forward who hasnt played since undergoing an appendectomy eight days earlier, was cleared to play Tuesday. Kings coach Darryl Sutter will put no undue pressure on his team to finish off the series in four games. Los Angeles has been impressive in the playoffs after a disappointing finish to the regular season, but Sutter realizes the differences between those efforts are minor and often ephemeral. "I know the series is 3-0, but it honestly just as easy could have been the other way," Sutter said. ' ' '