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Why Michael Jordan’s Bulls didn’t face superteams in the 1990s

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Article Summary:

Teams were granted the right of first refusal on any contract offered to their own players, essentially making every player whose contract expired at that point the equivalent of a modern restricted free agent. The max contract: Players were legally allowed to be paid any amount a team would willingly pay them until 1999, so long as that number fit either underneath the salary cap or the player’s Bird Rights.

Not only did the absence of a max contract allow teams to pay players gargantuan percentages of the cap, but it also freed them to sign players to outrageously long deals. Nowadays, player contracts are organically so short that if a player is underpaid, he’ll reach free agency soon enough to correct that.

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