Looking at some recent basketball contracts, how much money would Michael Jordan have made if he signed a two-year deal in the modern NBA?
Jordan took three years off from basketball after the 1997-98 season. At 38, he returned to basketball and signed with the Wizards. During two years with Washington, he averaged 21.2 ppg, 5.9 rpg and 4.4 apg.
He shot 43.1 percent from the field and played 36.1 mpg as a small forward for the Wizards. While Jordan donated his 2002 salary to victims of the 9/11 attacks in New York City, he was a cap hit worth $1 million his first season and $1.03M in 2003.
Only rookie Bobby Simmons, Brian Cardinal (who played just five games for the team) made less than Jordan did on the Wizards roster in 2003.
The salary cap is currently set at $99.09 million for each team in the league. But for the 2002-03 season, the salary cap was $40.27M. This means Jordan was paid 2.5 percent of the available cap space for the Wizards.
This was the 228th highest-paid player in the league. Next season, the 228th highest-paid player will be Richard Jefferson. He will make $2.5 million in 2017-18 — or 2.5 percent of the total cap space for the Cavaliers. Like Jordan when he played for the Wizards, Jefferson will turn 38 next season.
By this calculation, Jordan would have signed to a two-year, $5 million contract to play his final professional seasons. However, this wouldn’t make much sense in the modern NBA.
Flash forward to the 2017 offseason, when 33-year-old JJ Redick signed a one-year, $23 million deal to play for Philadelphia. Perhaps one reason Redick signed this offseason was to be a locker room leader for the young team.
Of course, Jordan had a similar role for the Wizards. He signed on to the front office as a minority owner and President of Basketball Operations in 2000.
From a basketball perspective, however, Jordan had 3.3 Win Shares in 2002 and then 6.2 Win Shares in 2003. For comparison, Redick had 6.7 Win Shares two years ago and then 4.8 the following year – which is two more than Jordan had in his final two NBA seasons.
Based on value over replacement player, Redick had 1.5 in 2015 and 1.1 in 2016. Jordan had 2.4 in 2002 and 2.3 in 2003. This is about two more than Redick had before his recent massive contract. If Win Shares and VORP wash out, he would be about as valuable as Redick.
By this calculation, Jordan would have signed a two-year deal worth $46 million. But considering this is is what Redick received, one would have to assume Jordan could have earned even more.
Perhaps the most fascinating way to examine what Jordan would have made in the contemporary NBA landscape is to look at how much Kobe Bryant signed for his final professional contract.
Bryant signed a two-year, $48.5 million deal with the Lakers before his retirement. The Los Angeles legend mostly gave a loyalty deal to their iconic star.
For marketing reasons, Jordan could be seen as even more valuable to his franchise than Bryant. Plus, he was at a better point in his basketball career and was still an effective player.
By this calculation, Jordan would have signed a two-year deal worth $57 million.