On the eve of the Chicago Bulls‘ Friday road tilt with the San Antonio Spurs, much of the focus was on DeMar DeRozan’s return to his old stomping grounds. However, the soon-to-be All-Star starter wasn’t the only one experiencing a reunion of sorts as a result of the game.
Former Bull Thaddeus Young, who was sent to the Alamo City as part of the sign-and-trade deal that netted DeRozan, was reunited with his old teammates as well. However, the players’ respective situations with their current clubs could not be more different.
While DeRozan returned to Spurs Land as a resurgent star and darkhorse MVP candidate, Young is essentially out of Gregg Popovich’s rotation. As it stands, he has little to do in San Antonio but wait to get traded, bought out or have his contract expire at the end of the year.
In a pre-game interview with Bulls insider KC Johnson, Young revealed that making the adjustment from playing a key role in Chicago previously to becoming a forgotten man with the Spurs has been difficult.
Thaddy Gets Real About His New Role
Where making the change from key cog to a deep bench piece is concerned, Young confessed to Johnson that it was an unexpected move. However, he has done his best to stay ready at all times throughout the process.
“I definitely didn’t see this coming,” Young said of his role with the Spurs. “It is what it is. All I can do is just continue to trust my work and trust my craft, the time I put into the gym. I’ve stayed in shape. I put a plan together in case I do get that call where I have to play.”
Since December 15, the 33-year-old has appeared in just four games. And even before then, his court time had been significantly reduced. As Young sees it, though, he has made the most of the opportunities he has received.
“The times I have played, I think I’ve played decent,” he opined. “The biggest thing for me is when you haven’t played in a certain amount of games, your timing and rhythm is off. But as a veteran, you have to stay prepared. I think I’ve done a good job of that.”
Per 36 minutes, Young is currently averaging 15.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 2.2 steals. All of those marks meet or exceed his career numbers. Moreover, he has connected on a career-high 57.3% of his shot attempts this season.
Young Speaks out on Better Times With the Bulls
When asked by Johnson what stands out to him about his two-year run in the Windy City, Young couldn’t help but get sentimental.
“Just the moments that I had with my teammates. Those are all great guys,” he said. “We all know I love Zach [LaVine] to death and he feels the same way. Getting a chance to help groom Pat [Williams] and Coby [White] a little bit. And then the staff was great. I loved having conversations with everyone on staff and making sure the guys were good.”
So how does Young feel about what that group has accomplished in 2021-22 with DeRozan in tow?
“I mean, we all knew what type of player DeMar is and what he continues to be. We know that DeMar is going to continue to be an All-Star. He’s a dynamic player, a superstar in this league. He’s been doing what he’s been doing for years,” Young said.
“I would say the good thing is I’m happy to see Zach actually get a chance to win basketball games and get that playoff feeling. It’s a shame I’m not with him. But these things happen. It’s a business. You have to be ready for each situation. But I’m happy to see those young guys play in games that mean something and get a chance to learn in a winning environment. Once you get that feeling, you don’t ever want that feeling to go away. It continues to keep you hungry.”