Bulls seem comfortable with doing nothing as NBA trade deadline approaches

The Bulls again appear to be stuck in neutral with the NBA trade deadline approaching.

Paul Beaty/AP

What does “no movement” at the trade deadline really mean? This is a team that has had no forward movement in the last two full calendar cycles. A team that is stuck in neutral as you read this.

Does it mean they’ve given up? Does it mean they’re settling? That they’re comfortable? Cool with where they are and how things are going? Or can we, that team’s over-analytical, over-cynical, over-passionate fanbase, take all of the lingering questions above and reasonably come to the unreasonable conclusion that “no movement” as the NBA trade deadline approaches means our beloved Bulls have no idea WTH they’re doing?

The confluence, disconcerting. The reality, concerning. Add to the actuality that this is not new, that this is nothing but a continuum of how they roll. Embarrassing. Makes you wonder if they as an organization and team are seeing what we are seeing. If they are seeing in the film sessions the days after their games the same things that we all saw the night before?

Just this season, teams in the East came in already ahead of the Bulls in promise, predicted finishes and productivity in the win-loss columns. Four of those teams are the Pacers, Knicks, Heat and Sixers. These same teams are one or two of the “low end” teams the Bulls would have to face — without having home-court advantage — if they were to even make the playoffs. All four of those franchises made pre-trade deadline moves. They got better even as they began the season better than the Bulls. Yet we chillin’. Three games under .500, in the 9 spot if the play-in tournament began tomorrow. Biggie with it: No trades, no problems. Mad comfortable but not mad at all. 

This might be a bit blasphemous to write on a Chicago-centric public platform but (gulp) it’s sad when the Bulls are actually more frustrating than the Bears. 

The Bulls like to say (blame) injuries are why things are the way they’ve been. Or at least drop mention of how “not having bodies on the floor” is their rationality. Cool. Understandable. But injuries aren’t the reigning problem. It’s how they’ve handled the injuries that is. They are complacent, apathetic, self-victimizing. “Woe is we.” No. “Whoa! Why haven’t you all done anything?” 

In their recent home loss to the Raptors, the Bulls shot 42.9% from the field in the second half (57.5% in the first half, when they peaked to a 16-point lead), in a game they had no reason/excuse to lose, especially after Toronto was three starters down due to trades they’d made before the deadline. The Bulls showed less than no fight. In a Knicks victory over the Pacers, playing without their All-Star Julius Randle, the Knicks provided a win to define who they are. After that game, while being interviewed on the Madison Square Garden floor, Chicago/Lincolnshire native and the other NYK All-Star Jalen Brunson, (who scored 40 points and had 19,000 people stay after the game to give him love) when asked how the team rallied short-handed (only seven players played, talk about not having bodies on the floor) against a Pacers team after being 15 points down, said: “We just kept fighting, man. You know what I mean? No matter what, we’re going to keep fighting. We’re going to keep fighting every single night. That’s what we do.”

Can anyone in a Bulls uniform make those types of comments and leave the court knowing that they spoke the truth? 

The problem is there’s no noise — real noise — coming out of the Bulls camp. There’s concern, but not noise. They’ve handled this entire trade deadline almost too professionally. That comes off as effortless, insouciant, unbothered. Sometimes dysfunction works. Sometimes acting with a sense of urgency results in results. Just look at the 76ers and stop laughing. 

Marc Silverman said it with pinpoint accuracy during his Thursday afternoon ESPN1000 show when speaking about the Bulls needing a defib going into this season’s trade zero hour: “They are not trying to win.” Followed by, “This is us. Who we are.” Called it “Front office malpractice.” He speaks for millions.

But to be fair, the Bulls may shock us all. There’s still time for the Bulls to pull off something to shake up both our and their worlds. Something to make us believe that there is a pulse, act like they care. Something. Anything. Thursday’s coming. Then again, you all know the difference between wishful thinking and “bull” when you read it.

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