CHICAGO -- Michael Jordan is back.
Was there any doubt?
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Jordan is believed to have been offered at least $36 million -- a 20-percent raise over last season. The contract is to be signed next week when Jordan returns from Las Vegas, where he is conducting a fantasy basketball camp.
Both sides remained relatively quiet about the contract yesterday; their brief statements didn't address whether the coming season would be Jordan's final one with the Bulls.
"After sitting down with Michael," Reinsdorf said, "it was quite evident in our conversation that both of us continue to care very deeply about the Bulls' organization, its fans and where the franchise is headed. That made Tuesday's decision easy."
Reinsdorf, who originally wanted Jordan to consider a two-year deal, backed off that idea. Reinsdorf did, however, tell the Tribune he had no intention of guaranteeing Jordan that Scottie Pippen would not be traded. Jordan sought to have a no-trade provision for Pippen included in his contract after the Bulls entertained offers for Pippen before the June NBA draft. Pippen is in the final year of an eight-year deal with the Bulls.
Reinsdorf and Jordan must have come to a compromise; their meeting lasted no more than an hour.
"Jerry and I have a special relationship which enables us to work cooperatively," said Jordan, a nine-time league scoring champion, four-time regular-season MVP and the MVP of the NBA Finals all five times the Bulls have won. "I am committed to Chicago and to winning. So is Jerry."
Reinsdorf began preliminary discussions with Falk over the phone Monday. He flew to Las Vegas on Tuesday to talk one-on-one with Jordan and then conducted a final meeting with Jordan and Falk before heading back to Chicago yesterday morning.
Negotiations were conducted in a similar fashion last summer when Jordan and the Bulls reached an agreement on a one-year, $30-million contract within two days. Jordan approved the deal on the golf course after receiving a call from Reinsdorf on a cellular phone.
Next up for the Bulls is Dennis Rodman. Reinsdorf wanted to talk face-to-face with Rodman before returning to Chicago, but no meeting took place. General manager Jerry Krause, who will return to Chicago from Hawaii today, said he expects to have the controversial free-agent forward signed within the next week.
Krause has discussed a one-year contract with Rodman's agent, Dwight Manley. The Bulls will offer Rodman less than $2 million in base salary, with more money available through incentives tied to behavior and playing time. Including deferred payments and incentives, Rodman's contract was worth $9 million last season.
"The next order of business will be Dennis," Krause said. "We want Dennis. We'll start on him right after Labor Day."
Pub Date: 8/28/97