Chicago is due to pay luxury tax again this season. The Bulls are currently $7,540,428 over the threshold and are not likely at all to get under it. This, then, puts them in line for the repeater rates should they pay luxury tax again in either of the next two seasons.
The Bulls' projected total expenditure this season after tax is due to be $91,234,177. The same payroll with the same hypothetical tax threshold, when subject to repeater tax, would result in a total expenditure of $98,774,605. This again demonstrates the effectiveness of the repeater tax. A team now only a mere few million over the luxury tax, then, is starting to get incredibly expensive, to the point that being one good player over the threshold puts it at a near nine-figure payroll. (Imagine if Chicago had Omer Asik's $14.8 million to contend with next season, too. Add that in and run the same numbers. Chicago did. And that is why the Bulls let him walk.)
The Bulls could potentially pay this nearly nine-figure repeater tax amount. Even if they often do not spend as such, they are a big-market, high-revenue team. A smaller-market team, however, could not. Given its self-imposed payroll restrictions, Chicago likely cannot either.