Bulls’ season ends with another loss, but expect most of team to return

SHARE Bulls’ season ends with another loss, but expect most of team to return

A direct question can be an adventure sometimes with coach Fred Hoiberg.

He generally nods his head in understanding, but then the question enters the Hoiberg vortex, and a Fred-ism comes out the other side.


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So when he was asked before the Bulls’ season finale Wednesday if he’d be back next season, you knew what was coming.

“Just looking at the season as a whole, we made a lot of strides in the right direction,’’ Hoiberg said. “We played an exciting style of basketball with a young group of guys who really bought into what we were trying to do.

‘‘Obviously, there were a lot of goals this season, one of them being skill development. I think our guys did a great job of buying into getting better. You look at some of the seasons our guys have had as far as production in their careers, and we’ve got a lot of guys at an all-time high.

‘‘We still have a lot of work to do. It will be an important offseason to build off that and build chemistry. For the most part, our guys competed at a high level.’’

All mostly true, but what about the question?

When asked again, Hoiberg finally said, “We’ll see.’’

The classic Fred-ism in all its glory.

The fact is, there’s no “we’ll see’’ about it. Even with the 119-87 loss to the Pistons and the 27-55 record — the Bulls’ worst since they went 23-59 in the 2003-04 season — multiple sources indicated that Hoiberg will be back and no significant changes are planned for the coaching staff or front office.

Year 1 of the rebuild now turns its attention to the offseason and getting Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine some much-needed court time together. Year 2 kicks off with the June draft.

Vice president of basketball operations John Paxson will meet with the media and Hoiberg on Thursday and is expected to reaffirm Hoiberg’s standing with the organization. Hoiberg said he has been in constant communication with Paxson throughout the season, so he feels like they’re on the same page anyway.

“It’s been great with John being on the road with us a lot this year,’’ Hoiberg said.

“We’ve had meetings a lot as a staff and gotten together to talk about our team as far as what we liked this year and what we haven’t and how we improve on those things. And a very important part of it is who fits moving forward as far as long-term plans with the organization, so we’ve had a lot of those talks throughout the year.’’

One player with a luminous future appears to be Markkanen.

The 2017 seventh overall pick, Markkanen wrapped up his rookie season with 20 points, including three three-pointers to break Kirk Hinrich’s franchise rookie record of 144 in a season by one.

But the best news of the night for the Bulls was that they finished tied with the Kings for the NBA’s sixth-worst record.

Not as tanky as the front office was hoping for at the start of the season, but in losing 11 of their last 14 games, the Bulls did help their lottery cause.

“As long as we have that mentality of growing together and getting better, we’ll be fine,’’ LaVine said. “The sky is the limit for us.’’

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