Veteran forward Thaddeus Young has not been happy with his playing time as a member of the San Antonio Spurs this season. Young, 33, was traded to the Spurs from the Bulls over the offseason in the deal that sent DeMar DeRozan to Chicago. In San Antonio, Young has made 17 appearances and is averaging just 15.6 minutes per game for the Spurs — a career-low.
The fewest amount of minutes he played per game in a season previously was 21 way back during his rookie campaign in 2007-2008. Over the course of his career, Young has averaged 29.7 minutes of action per performance, and he’s had a tough time adjusting to a limited role.
“Right now, this situation is not ideal for me,” Young said, via Basketball News. “I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve had to settle for four and six minutes a game.
“It’s super tough. It’s very tough and frustrating at times,” Young added. “But at the end of the day, I understand where this franchise is going and I understand what’s happening — the young guys have to play. Whatever happens, happens. It’s just a matter of trusting in my faith and trusting in my craft and trusting in the time that I put into the game each and every day.”
The way Young sees it, he still has a lot of gas left in the proverbial tank. “I’m still able to go out there and play at a super-high level and [have that] consistency,” Young said. “For me, it’s just a matter of getting minutes. If I get a certain amount of minutes, then I’m able to be consistent — as consistent as I’ve been in [recent] years.
“So far this season, I haven’t really played as much as I’ve played in the past. But with the time that I have been given, I’ve been productive… If I’m able to play a certain amount of minutes per game, then I feel like I can continue to be as consistent as I’ve been for years, and for many more years to come.”
Young has indeed tried to make the most of his minutes this season, as he’s averaging 7.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.1 steals per game. Young’s unhappiness with his current situation hasn’t impacted his work ethic, as he’s still putting in all of the necessary work — and then some — behind the scenes.
“I’m a 15-year veteran and I’m still one of the last to leave the gym and I’m still showing up early, putting in a lot of time and a lot of work,” Young said. “If I’m not playing in games, then I have to figure out some way to stay in shape, so I’ve been doing my after-the-game conditioning as well as showing up early for three-on-three sessions. I’m not supposed to be playing those three-on-three sessions because I’m a vet, but in order to stay in shape, I have to do something. So I’m playing in three-on-three sessions with the younger guys and some of the coaches and just trying to keep my feel for the game and timing.”
At this point in his career, Young would probably like to be able to contribute to a contender, and given the fact that the Spurs are clearly in the midst of a rebuild, it wouldn’t be especially surprising if they looked to move Young prior to February’s trade deadline. In fact, such a move is likely, and the fact that Young is on an expiring contract will make him extra attractive to suitors, as trading for him won’t require any sort of a long-term investment.
Some teams will likely be willing to part with a future pick, or two, in order to acquire an experienced, versatile veteran like Young ahead of the playoff push. In the meantime, Young doesn’t plan to be a distraction in San Antonio, even if he isn’t happy with the way he’s being utilized.
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“My s–t is my s–t; I wouldn’t put that on my teammates,” Young said. “That’s something that I have to deal with, and I just try to control what I can control and focus on what I can focus on when I do get [playing] time and when I am out on the court with those guys.
“The one thing I’ve prided myself on is just continuing to be professional and making sure that if I’m part of a team, I’m part of that team,” he said. “I’m not one foot in and one foot out. If I’m putting on that jersey and they’re paying me and they’re putting their trust in me, I’m going to make sure that I’m there for them. I think that’s one of the biggest things.”