CHICAGO — Is Michael Jordan going to be the National Basketball Assn.'s first player to earn $4 million a year?
If that sounds outlandish, maybe it is, but the Chicago Bulls may be asked to pay their superstar guard a total of $30 million over seven years. Jordan said he believes that talks have already begun with team management about extending his contract.
"I haven't really been monitoring it," Jordan said. "I think (the Bulls) have been talking to my attorneys. I've just been playing. If they decide to give me a raise, give me a raise. I'll live with that.
Jordan is making $830,000 this season, the fourth year of the seven-year, $6.15-million contract that he signed in 1984. The 1988-89 season is the last guaranteed year, after which the Bulls have an option for the sixth and seventh years of the deal.
Under terms of the collective bargaining agreement, Jordan cannot renegotiate the contract. Under certain circumstances, however, the Bulls are free to give Jordan a contract extension and increase his salary. Jordan said he deserves more.
"A lot of people are starting to look at my contract, why I haven't renegotiated," Jordan said. "If I am considered to be in the Magic Johnsons or the Larry Birds or in the top elite of the NBA, I think I should be paid just as much as those guys.
"I am obligated to play, I got a contract . . . and I'll play that contract because I signed that contract. I can't see myself saying that I can't play this contract because they won't pay me more money and won't give me a raise.
"But if you are a concerned owner and an owner that looks after the best interests of his players, then it's something you would do on your own without the player really threatening to (sit out), if you consider that individual to be in the top elite class."
Owner Jerry Reinsdorf of the Bulls would not comment specifically about extending Jordan's contract.
"If you pay any one player too much, you won't have a very good team," Reinsdorf said. "His contract was fine when he signed it. He was happy with it then."
Although it may be doubtful that the Bulls can afford to pay Jordan $30 million, such a figure might be considered as a possible starting point in a contract extension.
David Falk of ProServ, Jordan's agent, said when asked about the $30 million: "That amount needs no comment."
Falk did not deny, however, that Jordan's contract needs work because it's out of date.
"Clearly, the market is changing," he said. "We were very excited about the deal (in 1984), but it's a case of whatever seems high today doesn't seem so high down the road. Now, any objective observer would say the contract is not reflective of current values."
General Manager Jerry Krause, who said he does not like to talk about players' contracts, contended that what Jordan earns in Chicago--even when he is not playing basketball--should be taken into consideration.
"Michael Jordan is well taken care of," Krause said. "He's in a market where he commands huge dollars off the floor."
Jordan said he only wants to make what the best players in the game make. He remains optimistic that the Bulls are going to come up with something.
"I feel that somehow they will compensate me," he said.
THE MILLION-DOLLAR CLUB
Salary Player Team (In millions) 2.75 Patrick Ewing New York Knicks 2.50 Magic Johnson Lakers 2.07 Moses Malone Washington Bullets 2.04 Robert Parish Boston Celtics 2.0 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Lakers 2.0 Ralph Sampson Houston Rockets 1.8 Larry Bird Boston Celtics 1.6 Jack Sikma Milwaukee Bucks 1.5 Alex English Denver Nuggets 1.45 Dominique Wilkins Atlanta Hawks 1.4* Marques Johnson Clippers 1.38 Akeem Olajuwon Houston Rockets 1.36 Terry Cummings Milwaukee Bucks 1.33 Joe Barry Carroll Golden State Warriors 1.3 Kevin McHale Boston Celtics 1.2 Orlando Woolridge New Jersey Nets 1.14 Bill Cartwright New York Knicks 1.08 Benoit Benjamin Clippers 1.07 Tree Rollins Atlanta Hawks 1.05 Sam Bowie Portland Trail Blazers 1.05 Bernard King Washington Bullets 1.0 James Worthy Lakers 1.0 Maurice Cheeks Philadelphia 76ers 1.0 Melvin Turpin Utah Jazz
NOTE: These figures, obtained by The Times through confidential sources, include salaries paid at a later date, which are called "deferred payments." Not all the players have contracts with deferred payments, but many of them do. For instance, Magic Johnson's salary for 1987-88 is listed as $2.5 million, yet he receives only $1 million this season. His total for this season includes $1.5 million in deferred payments, which he won't begin to receive until 1994.
* Marques Johnson's contract is apparently headed for arbitration because of a dispute. The Clippers claim the contract is not guaranteed and Johnson should not be paid. Johnson may never be able to play again because of a severe neck injury.