John Paxson says playoffs are still the goal for Bulls
Chicago is only three games out of a playoff spot, but that’s only because the back half of the Eastern Conference is so bad.
Q: On Media Day, your organization stated playoffs as the goal. Is that still a possibility? And it seems you have moved the goalposts a bit towards development, which obviously needs to happen as well. But the team hasn’t been competitive many nights.
A: What we said is our goal is to challenge and compete for the playoffs. I don’t know why that changes. And the reason we said that, the summer we had and the changes we made and the draft and the buy-in in September, our players felt good about themselves. And we all felt good about it. The way Jim is wired, we’re all wired, why shouldn’t we be sending the message to them to compete for the playoffs? If that’s a pressure you put on people, I’m fine with that. I don’t waver. But I don’t know where that lands. I don’t know if that’s a realistic thing right now. We certainly haven’t played like a team that’s playoff-bound. But 50-some games left, it can change. If it doesn’t, we obviously didn’t achieve something that we thought we could’ve.
The Bulls enter Saturday’s matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers with a record of 9-18. They are in the 11th spot in the Eastern Conference standings.
If the Bulls don’t make the playoffs this season, it will be a failed year. Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen were expected to take the next step in their developments and play at a near-All-Star level, but that hasn’t happened.
From the outside looking in, it doesn’t look like the players in Chicago enjoy playing for head coach Jim Boylen. However, Boylen isn’t going to get fired since he signed a contract extension this past summer and has the full support of Paxson, general manager Gar Forman and ownership.