After an active offseason, Charles Barkley says it’s playoffs or bust for this year’s Chicago Bulls.
In the weaker Eastern Conference, the Chicago Bulls have missed the playoffs in four straight seasons and in five of the last six campaigns. Billy Donovan was an upgrade in coaching last season, and this offseason the roster has been reshaped.
Lonzo Ball was brought in via a sign-and-trade with the New Orleans Pelicans to join Zach LaVine in the starting backcourt, and Alex Caruso was signed for depth. Then came a surprising move to acquire DeMar DeRozan in a sign-and-trade from the San Antonio Spurs. With the acquisition of center Nikola Vucevic at last season’s trade deadline, the Bulls look formidable.
Charles Barkley says it’s playoffs or bust for the Bulls this year
During an appearance with Waddle and Silvy on ESPN 1000 in Chicago, Charles Barkley said the Bulls had the best offseason in the NBA. He’d also, naturally, be surprised if they don’t make the playoffs.
LaVine is entering the final year of his contract, and signing an extension with the Bulls feels like a coin-flip proposition right now. DeRozan signed a three-year deal as part of the move that brought him to Chicago, but he’s 32 years old and after apparently spurning the Los Angeles Clippers he chose the Bulls. Vucevic has two years left on his deal as he crosses into his 30s.
The Bulls have been aggressive this offseason, with the remaining possibility to add someone else via a sign-and-trade involving Lauri Markkanen. They’ve recognized a win-now window with LaVine’s future with the team up in the air, as rumors tying them to Ball came to fruition and they swooped in from out of nowhere to get DeRozan.
Anything less than a top-eight playoff spot would be a disappointment for the Bulls in 2021-22. Barkley has simply acknowledged what the expectations, internally and externally, are.