I was looking at the Bulls play the other night, trying to see how this horrible trade corner we seemed to be backed in to would play out - and what we could realistically expect from the most obvious destination for a trade.
Instead I was captivated by a Bulls squad that was deflated and frustrated. This was a squad I recognised instantly (not just because they were wearing Bulls uniforms), I realised I'd seen that play and outlook before. It was imprinted on the Lakers last season after the trade deadline slipped away and Jason Kidd never joined the squad. I remember the way we looked like a fisherman who nearly caught the prize fish and ended up with just the worm left on the hook (c'mon now, I'm not calling Bynum a worm, this is a metaphor work with me here).
So after some crafty fishing by the Bulls, have they just pulled back the rod to find nothing but their bait on the hook? I think so. I think you're looking at a team that had high expectations and bought in wholeheartedly the idea that Kobe was coming to town. They look confused and dejected. They know they should be better than the way they're playing, but they can't seem to shrug it off.
This is us last year for sure. We were playing great - you can blame it on injuries, but I think the season got derailed with the salivation over JKidd lighting it up with Kobe. We forgot about what got us to where we were and lost focus - in fact we lost focus so bad we struggled to find rhythm again and led to bad feeling at the end of the season (perhaps even Kobe's outbursts).
So what's the point Ed? Well, we know we missed a golden opportunity with Kidd - that's the beauty of hindsight - though most of us wanted the trade right there and then.. That was the bad one, this time though, we may have just slipped the hook and this might spur us on. We're a good ball club - a REAL good ball club. If we'd carried that momentum through from the first half of last season we'd be a team they were talking about this season.
And here's where it gets good.. if we now can gel and play the way we can using this experience to push us forward, we can be a bit more than we believed and really challenge some of the other teams. Now I know what you're thinking - this is all based on one game against Phoenix (the Utah game's on the radio as I type), but it really isn't about the game or the result, it's based upon body language and reading our players.
I don't think this was a Phil (or anyone else) master-plan, but if anyone knows how to take a fishing trip like our summer and turn it into a positive it's Phil.