NEW YORK — Coach Jim Boylen knows that there will come a time when the Bulls will have to attach the white flag of development to the pole and start playing guys for next season.
After their 110-107 loss to the Nets on Sunday, that time might have arrived.
Even with most of their frontcourt back from injury and getting extended minutes, the Bulls continue to find new ways to lose. A potential game-tying three-pointer by rookie Coby White danced in and out of the basket with 9.1 seconds left, and the Nets held on for the victory.
Considering the Bulls were down by 10 with only 2:39 left, it quashed what would’ve been quite a comeback.
Instead, it was another cruel dose of reality for a team going nowhere at 21-43 that has to decide on what the last 18 games of the regular season should be about.
“I’ll do that kind of hand-in-hand, in step with [vice president of basketball operations] John [Paxson],’’ Boylen said. “We’ll kind of sit down, and we’ve talked about winning and developing, and there may be a moment where we turn into pure development mode. That’s what you do. To me, if that’s what is best for the franchise, that’s what helps us to continue to grow and get better, I’m sure we’ll do that.
“We’ll discuss it probably this week, probably [Monday], and go from there.’’
It’s a far cry from the talk that came out of the Advocate Center on media day, when the front office doubled down on the top goal for this season being a return to the playoffs in the third year of the rebuild.
“Right now, we’re just seeing what happens,’’ White said. “If [development is] the road that we take, that’s the road that we take. We just got to finish strong.’’
White, who had 21 points and shot 8-for-21 from the field, admitted that when he let the 30-foot pull-up shot go from straight on, he thought overtime was just around the corner.
“Yeah, I thought everybody in the building thought it was going in,’’ White said. “It went in and out, halfway in and out, you know. If it would have gone in, it would have been great. It didn’t, so . . .’’
Alas, it was just another almost moment for the Bulls.
“We know one thing about everyone that plays in this organization, and any other head coach that questions us, is how hard we play,’’ White said. “Every night, we play hard. One through however many play, we play hard. Everything we went through over the course of the game, and we still had a chance to win.’’
Meanwhile, Jacque Vaughn, who made his debut as Nets coach after Kenny Atkinson was pushed out a day earlier, said he was just glad to have a game so quickly after all the turmoil the last few days.
“Just glad for the guys that were able to get back on the floor,’’ Vaughn said. “Get back to what they enjoy doing, love doing.’’
The Bulls have dropped three in a row and are 2-13 in their last 15 games.
So on Tuesday, we could see Wendell Carter Jr. playing some extended minutes at power forward or White finally getting a start.
“If I start, I start; if I don’t, I don’t,’’ White said. “I’m just going to keep going out there and playing hard. Keep doing what I’m doing. Stay focused and keep grinding.’’