Maybe blowing it up is the right call

The Chicago Bulls need to start over — and should have done so at the trade deadline

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Nikola Vucevic of the Chicago Bulls reacts after making a shot in the fourth quarter against the Indiana Pacers.
Nikola Vucevic of the Chicago Bulls reacts after making a shot in the fourth quarter against the Indiana Pacers.
Photo: Dylan Buell (Getty Images)

About six weeks ago, I came here to lament how whenever one thing went wrong for a team, in any sport these days, the immediate call from fans and media alike was to simply blow things up. We have become so attuned to teams either being contenders or driving themselves into the dirt to start over that it’s the default response. I wished for there to be another way, for a team to try and tinker and alter a team that might be stuck in the middle instead of hitting the restart button. Isn’t there more to life than hoping for a No. 1 draft pick?

No, no there isn’t.

The Chicago Bulls should have blown it up at the trade deadline

People, I was wrong. The Bulls should have blown it up at the trade deadline. After all, when things don’t work, sometimes the worst thing you can do is to try and put Band-Aids and duct tape everywhere so that it can barely wheeze its way forward. You have to try something new. Maybe there are teams that get preemptively blown up, where there was enough there to try and change the plane in mid-air. Some teams can be transformers.

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And then some teams are just what’s been stuck to the pot for three days because you forgot to wash it. And then it gets stuck in the drain when you do. Watching the Bulls on both ends of the floor is watching a collection of five guys who appear to not know how they got there and certainly aren’t aware of what it is they’re supposed to do while there. After all, when you take a wrong turn and end up somewhere not in your travel plans, it’s not like you know what the relevant activities are. It wasn’t part of your plan. That’s the Bulls — a collection of players who are clearly lost, except it’s not even clear they know how to ask directions for wherever it was they thought they were supposed to go.

Sometimes they get it right, but not often enough

Occasionally they’ll flash a competent offense, usually when the ball goes through Nikola Vucevic, and it snaps from player to player and players move and suddenly they get an open shot. A good NBA offense just unearths open shots, like the reverse of that meme of Homer walking backward through the hedge. Even with the eagle’s eye view of the TV, players just appear out of the ether for a layup or a three when things are humming.

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The Bulls might do that for a quarter. Maybe even a half. And then they emerge from some timeout or halftime and it’s like they have no recollection of what they just did, though they are aware of seemingly having done something before. They occasionally paw at what they think they had done before, but it’s all a haze to them. It’s déjà vu. And then they stand around, sure they should be forlornly missing something that used to be a part of them, but they can’t remember what. They can’t even get to the pain.

Defensively, they just stand and point. They’re the guy at the music festival who just took too many drugs, except there are five of them. They know there’s a spot and time they’re supposed to be, but they’ve forgotten what the mechanics are for getting there on time. So they stare at the ground, and point in some undetermined direction, hoping that someone will understand and simply guide them there because they just happen to be on the same wavelength.

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This isn’t anything, and certainly isn’t anything worth hanging on to. Sadly, Bulls management is just as bewildered as the roster they’ve created. They’re that stick figure poking something already dead, beseeching it to do something. Ever have a financial problem, and you just say to yourself, “Eh, something will come up and it’ll be fine. I don’t know what, but something.” That’s how the Bulls are run. They don’t have answers, and they don’t know how to go about finding them, but they assume they’ll just land on the organization because hey, hope is better.

So yeah, blowing it up is good. It at least provides the hope of a blank slate. A blank slate could be anything, right? Maybe by just dumb luck, which is the Bulls’ entire plan these days, a blank slate could become something. Plenty of morons have goofed a championship caliber team, right?

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Your parents were wrong. Playing with matches can be good. Burning something down sometimes is necessary. Sometimes a structure is too decrepit, filled with too much mold and mildew and creaking foundations. You don’t fortify it as best you can. You take it down. I was wrong. Explosions are fun, after all.