There’s an adage: History doesn’t repeat itself, it just gets remixed.
“Hello, we are the Chicago Bulls, allow us to reintroduce ourselves.”
See, the thing about remixes is that they are supposed to be slightly — subtly or overtly — different from the original. Better than the version we’d already heard before. That’s why different DJs, producers, directors and editors are hired — to lend their touches. To create a different experience of the same thing. So here we are, back to the drill again. Game 1 boos rained down from the UC congregation. The Bulls found a way of making a loss bigger than a loss. One game under .500 felt like 15 under in April. Legendary NBA columnist Steve Aschburner called it “Game 85.” A remix of last season.
So when the news leaked that there was a POM (players-only meeting) after the season-opening 20-point loss, chaos held up the two-way mirror for all of us to see in without them having any idea of what we were exactly seeing. Isn’t this what the whole training camp/bonding experience in Nashville was supposed to be about? What came out of the days between the end of the 1-4 preseason and the tipoff of Game 1? Was nothing discussed? Was nothing learned? Were there no conversations among players addressing concerns? Was there nothing done by the coaching staff during that week? Did everyone just come into The Advocate Center, look at one another at the final preseason shoot around before the game and say to themselves: “It just is what it is”?
Then it got worse. They tried to sell the players-only “talk” as a one-off. From coach Billy Donovan about the meeting: “That would have never happened last year. Ever.” From Nikola Vucevic: “It’s maybe one of the first times since I’ve been here that it was like this and it was really needed.” Seriously? Last December, The Athletic reported that the Bulls, at that point, had “multiple team meetings to try to work out their issues and that has included one-on-one, face-to-face sitdowns between (DeMar) DeRozan and (Zack) LaVine.” After a Jan. 24 loss to the Pacers, who at the time had lost seven games in a row and were playing without two of their best players, CBS reported that the Bulls had another “team meeting.” To which Vucevic said at that time: “It’s very frustrating because we keep talking about the same issues, and if they don’t get fixed and we keep repeating the same mistakes, it’s hard to expect better results. We don’t do it.” It just is what it ain’t.
Bulls already had a team meeting after Game 1. Billy Donovan said he walked in and asked if they needed more time to talk. He was told yeah, and walked out.
This is going well so far.
— Joe Cowley (@JCowleyHoops) October 26, 2023
The Bulls at this point have nothing to lose because all already seems lost. The opening loss to the Thunder didn’t confirm that, the POM and the un-facts of it being “new” afterward did. Even if they win the next 10 games, the broken record is going to continue to sound like a broken record. Unless … yup, remix. Name: James Harden.
Just listen. If all has paused on Harden talks between the Sixers and the Clippers (as cra-cra as this my read), what’s wrong with the Bulls putting in a bid? With Harden, all of the “experts” claim the trade market is frozen; all reports are of the Sixers accepting only an offer including a player the Clippers refuse to include (Terance Mann). Cool. The Bulls can simply unfreeze the market with LaVine and his $40 million annual salary this season in return for Harden and his $35.6 million 2023-24 annual along with Montrezl Harrell’s $2 million and Pat Beverley’s $2M annual along with $400K in cash just to even it all out. This no longer leaves the Sixers with a Harden problem and the Bulls no longer with a LaVine issue (who they’ve been publicly and privately battling with for almost two seasons, and who has already been in trade rumors even after signing a $215M extension in 2021), along with stabilizing the Lonzo Ball vacancy at point guard with Harden, if he engages.
It’s change for change sake at its lowest for the Bulls in a scenario that can’t get any lower on top of a desperation reach. But if a closed-door “no coaches allowed” session with 99.8% of a season left to play isn’t a sign of extreme desperation, not sure what is. Enough to make you see red.
There’s a counter adage to the one above: The song is so dope it doesn’t need a remix. Not always true. Sometimes, even with dope songs, if you’ve heard them too much, over and over and over again, those songs never need to be heard again.