Pistons, Bulls close out disappointing seasons

CHICAGO — As the NBA’s regular season draws to a close, both the Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons approach their final game looking ahead to what’s ahead. And in both cases, a fair amount of uncertainty exists.

The Bulls head into Wednesday’s season finale against the Pistons having lost 10 of their past 13 games — including three straight — hoping to still have a shot at a prime lottery slot in this summer’s draft.

Detroit, meanwhile, faces another year without a playoff berth, which has left the future of coach Stan Van Gundy in question.

Still, with one seemingly meaningless game remaining, both the Bulls and Pistons — regardless of the difficulties they have faced this season — won’t concede anything.

Chicago (27-54) enters Wednesday’s game with the league’s seventh-worst record. The Bulls dropped a 114-105 decision to the Brooklyn Nets on Monday and finished the loss off with a collection of young talent that remains in the evaluation phase as Chicago continues to rebuild around the core of rookie Lauri Markkanen and guards Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine.

Still, despite this year’s struggles, coach Fred Hoiberg is quick to point out that he appreciates the effort he continues to get from his team despite the fact by now the Bulls are merely aiming to improve their draft position the best they can.

“I thought we really went out and competed at a high level,” Hoiberg told reporters after Monday’s loss, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “I thought we had great effort for 48 minutes.

“We’re obviously putting a lot of guys in a lot of different positions that they have not been in during the course of the year, but I thought each and every guy that stepped on the floor competed at a high level. That’s what it’s all about right now.”

The Pistons are coming off a 108-98 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Monday when Detroit (38-43) relinquished an early 17-point loss. The Pistons played without starters Blake Griffin (right ankle bruise), Reggie Bullock (sore left knee) and Andre Drummond (sore Achilles tendon) and are likely to again be short-handed Wednesday against the Bulls.

The changes that could be coming after a disappointing season could be arriving sooner rather than later.

Pistons owner Tom Gores told reporters Monday that he will meet with Van Gundy next week to discuss what needs to change following a campaign in which the Pistons failed to make the playoffs for the third time in the past four years.

Van Gundy has one year remaining on his five-year, $35 million deal.

“I’m just not sure what they are and he’s been working the whole season so I need to hear from Stan,” Gores told reporters, according to the Detroit Free Press. “I can tell you he’s an extremely dedicated man so I think he’s been good for our franchise.”

Still, Van Gundy understands the reality of the situation and knows that the Pistons only winning 38 games after winning 14 of their first 16 games won’t go unnoticed when it comes to the decision Gores has to make.

“It’s fine, I have no problem,” Van Gundy told reporters before Monday’s game, according to the Free Press. “Our record is what it is you’ve got to accept that and the judgment that goes with that.”

“I have great confidence the team will be good, but you still got to own the 38 wins right now. You can’t run from that.”