The Chicago Bulls appear set to continue on with Carlos Boozer this season, however, with the luxury tax looming, they'll also be looking to stay under that threshold. I've seen the phrase kicked around that the Bulls would never pay a player 47.1 million to go away, so I think it's worth some analysis on the true cost of amnestying Carlos Boozer now vs next season.
I removed the section about the stretch provision. I misread the CBA FAQ, the stretch provision does not apply to old contracts only new contracts
Cost to amnesty Boozer now
Carlos Boozer has three years remaining on his contract at 15, 15.3, and 16.8 million dollars for a grand total of 47.1 million dollars. However, since Boozer is getting waived under the amnesty provision teams may make partial bids towards his contract in order to take him on. Any partial bid made would lower the Bulls obligation towards him. Boozer is absolutely not the type of player who would make it through the waiver process without being bid on.
The Nets, Bobcats, Cavaliers, Rockets, Pacers (pending Hibbert FA), Bucks (though not tons), Hornets (pending Gordon FA), Suns, Blazers, and Raptors (if they renounce Bayless) all have cap room to make a considerable bid on Boozer.
Many of those small market teams could never hope to lure a better player to their team in FA at five million a year, so I think that's the floor for his bidding. Given the amount of teams 10 million under the cap or more, they'll also know they need to make reasonable bids to "win" Boozer. I would expect, that if the Bulls amnesty Boozer this season, he'll go for a minimum of 15 million to a team and a max of around 25 million.
That leaves the Bulls on the hook for somewhere between 22.1 and 32.1 million dollars over the next three years to pay Boozer.
Cost to amnesty Boozer next season
At a minimum, the Bulls will pay Boozer an extra 15 million dollars for his salary this year, so in terms of cost, that much is locked in for certain. Now we have to see what happens in the next season. I will explain the best case and worst case scenarios, and give my best guess for a reasonable estimate.
Best case scenario:
Teams generally conserve cap space so the market for Boozer is as robust next year as it would be this year.
Carlos Boozer stays healthy for 82 games.
Carlos Boozer plays as well this year as last year.
Under these scenarios, the market for him roughly remains unchanged, and Carlos will still get a bid between 5/8 million per year which would then be 10-16 million dollars off the 32.1 million the Bulls would still owe him. They would then have to pay him out 16.1 to 22.1 million dollars spread out over the remaining two years.
The grand total they would pay him in this scenario is somewhere between 31.1 to 37.1 million dollars rather than the 22.1 to 32.1. In the best case scenario, the Bulls are still paying Boozer considerably more money than if they amnesty him now [which should be obvious by the fact that a team isn't picking up part of his salary for an additional year].
Middle case scenario:
One or more of these things happen:
Boozer shows some decline
Has mild to moderate injury woes
Less robust market of teams under the cap
Boozer's value declines some in the bidding process and goes from 5-8 million per year down to 3-5 million per year. In this scenario, the Bulls now are on the hook for up to an additional 10 million dollars.
Worst case scenario:
Boozer has a very significant injury
Boozer's play completely falls off a cliff
Significant restriction in teams under the cap
In this scenario, the Bulls might get an offer somewhere between 0-2 million dollars per year and they're now on the hook for an additional 15-25 million. In which case the Bulls screwed up royally by not amnestying him right now.
Carlos Boozer's value as a player will not get better after just playing a decent season and staying healthy. At his age, he won't get better, it will only get worse or stay the same. We can hope for the best, and that his value simply stays the same, but it's more likely that we'll be somewhere in the middle and that the amount picked up on his contract will be less next year than it would be this year.
My prediction is that the Bulls could amnesty Boozer this season and get 21 million taken off his deal and if they wait a year, that they'll have around 9 million taken off instead. The extra 12 million dollars they save between the two years could be used to keep the bench mob around for one additional season and the Bulls end up breaking even financially overall while then weighing whether the team is better this season with just Carlos Boozer or Watson, Korver, and Brewer combined.
My guess is the second group is more valuable than Boozer alone, and that the Bulls would be making a mistake not to pull the trigger on the amnesty clause this season even though that doesn't seem like their intention right now.