The 33-year-old power forward was acquired by San Antonio in August in the deal that sent DeMar DeRozan to Chicago. He’s serving as a veteran presence on a very young team, but he’s not getting the minutes that he has been accustomed to. Kennedy notes that over the past two weeks, Young has played eight minutes or fewer four times.
“Right now, this situation is not ideal for me,” Young said during an appearance on Kennedy’s podcast. “I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve had to settle for four and six minutes a game.”
Young has remained productive into his 30s and is coming off one of his best seasons last year with the Bulls. He received the NBA’s 2021 Hustle Award, recognizing the player who makes the most energy and effort plays, while averaging 12.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.1 steals and 0.6 blocks per game. Those numbers have fallen significantly this season as Young is playing just 15.6 minutes per night after averaging 24.3 last year.
Young was a part-time starter during his two seasons in Chicago, but he’s filling a back-of-the-rotation role in San Antonio, where the emphasis is on developing young talent.
“It’s super tough. It’s very tough and frustrating at times,” said Young, who is the only player on the roster older than 30. “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. 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.
“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.”
With a $14.19M expiring contract, there should be plenty of demand for Young before the Feb. 10 trade deadline. The market figures to start opening up Dec. 15 when most free agents who signed over the summer become eligible to be traded. Until he’s moved, Young plans to do whatever he’s asked to and will avoid becoming a distraction.
“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.”