Days after the Chicago Bulls included him in the sign-and-trade agreement that is poised to net DeMar DeRozan from the Spurs, Thad Young delivered a lengthy farewell message to fans on Instagram.
“Thank you all for embracing my family and me the past 2 years!” Young wrote, in part. “When I signed there (with the Bulls) I envisioned us all as a family rising together back to contending. I tried my best to honor that during my time there by giving you my all.”
Young’s signing with the team in July 2019 was widely lauded because of his reputation as a productive, cerebral veteran, and across two seasons in Chicago, he lived up to that.
The 2019-20 campaign was a trying one for Young. In it, he navigated a reduced, perimeter-oriented role as the Bulls underperformed — with the situation becoming so strained that he considered retirement, he said in an April appearance on the Bulls Talk Podcast.
Then, in a refurbished, facilitating-focused role in 2020-21, he bounced back in a big way, posting a career-best 27.1 percent assist rate that blew his previous high (12.4 percent in 2014-15) out of the water. His playmaking helped anchor the Bulls’ offense in the early part of the season, and he quickly grew into a fanbase favorite, particularly after Stacey King nicknamed him “Thadgic Johnson.”
Young’s resurgent two-way play, which saw him lead the team in steals per game (1.1), charges drawn (19) and field-goal percentage (55.9), also earned him the NBA’s Hustle Award for 2021. The Bulls’ plus-4.1 net rating with him on the floor — compared to minus-5.9 in his off-minutes — underscored his impact and adaptability.
All the way, the now 14-year veteran filled a leadership role in the locker room while developing immense respect from teammates and coaches. He was a persistent proponent of Bulls’ players young and elder — from Patrick Williams to Wendell Carter Jr. to his close friend Zach LaVine — as well as a consistent source of candor, especially during tough times.
The Bulls hope to take a step toward playoff contention with the acquisition of DeRozan, but Young will surely be missed. While acknowledging the difficulty of the business side of basketball (this will be the fifth time he's been traded in his NBA career), Young wished the organization and its fans the best as he prepared for his next chapter in San Antonio.
"This is the part of the business that's always tough. I gained a lot of new family in you all," he wrote. "In this journey, I learned a lot about myself and about trusting the process. I'm sorry I wasn't able to fulfill that mission with you. Just know that I gave you all 110% every night.
“Thank you for putting your trust in me to be one of the leaders, and a voice for such an historic franchise. It was pleasure and a honor to wear the Chicago Bulls across my chest!”