There isn't any lead suggesting that the Bulls will use the Amnesty Provision of the Collective Bargaining Agreement this offseason, he notes, but Doug Thonus broke down estimates of how much the Bulls would have to pay to use it on Carlos Boozer.
The Amnesty Provision allows for any team to waive a player on the roster before July 1, 2011 -- "any new contract, extension, renegotiation or other amendment to his contract in the meantime". Bulls players eligible for Amnesty are Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, and Taj Gibson.
When a player is Amnestied, he's effectively waived with special rules on the how he can be claimed off the waiver wire. After initial 'regular' waivers where a team could claim the whole contract, there's a period where teams may bid on a portion of the contract. The highest bid cannot exceed the full amount owed to the player. If multiple teams tie for the highest bid, the team with the worse record gets the player.
The team waiving the player would have to pay the player the difference between what's guaranteed in their contract and the winning bid, but the waiving team would be allowed to take the waived player off their cap number.
Noah and Deng have too much trade value, so if the Bulls wanted to part with either, using the Amnesty Provision is clearly a bad option. And Gibson's so cheap that it would be beyond stupid. Boozer, on the other hand, seemingly has too little trade value to get equal money to make the trade legal, so the Amnesty Provision is the Bulls' only option to move him off the roster.
In short: Amnestying Boozer would put the Bulls under the salary cap, with everyone else guaranteed money next season totaling around $48 million (or around $10-11 million under the salary cap).
Thonus writes that there are plenty of teams that could pay Boozer $15-25 million over the remaining three years of his contract, only keeping the Bulls on the hook for the remaining $22.1-$32.1 million of the $47.1 million he's guaranteed over that time.
If the Bulls Amnestied him after next season and Boozer got $10-$16 million for the remaining two seasons from his new team, the Bulls would be on the hook for $16.1-22.1 million total. That after paying him $15 million.
Do that math and Amnestying Boozer after next season still costs the Bulls about $31-37 million.
Thonus began his post saying he's constantly heard that "the Bulls would never pay a player 47.1 million to go away", but for a guy who isn't getting any better, it clearly costs more keep Boozer than to waive him.
The way fans scream for the Bulls to Amnesty Boozer now, you'd think that adds to the amount available for the Bulls to spend on free agents. Unfortunately, this isn't the case.
Assuming the Bulls match an offer for Omer Asik that pays him $5 million next season and picks up the $3.2 million effective team option on C.J. Watson, the Bulls are in a hellish zone of being under the salary cap by around $2-3 million at best. While staying under the tax would give them full use of all the usual cap exceptions, the most they can give a free agent is still only about $5 million using the mid-level exception (MLE).
In this case, it is cheaper than the Bulls having a payroll over the luxury tax threshold, but it's also a worse team than the one on the floor last season.
If they waited until next season, matching a $5 million offer to Gibson replaces buying Richard Hamilton out of his last season, and Asik will likely be receiving about $5.2+ million. So, shaving Boozer's $15.3 million off of 2013-14's books doesn't really do much of anything either.
All Amnestying Boozer does is keep the Bulls further from the luxury tax and adds another roster spot for a bum veteran to make the minimum salary.
Jimmy Butler and Nikola Mirotic better be really, really good, in that case.