Thad Young hopes to bring same intangibles to Bulls that he left in Indy

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Thad Young hopes to bring same intangibles to Bulls that he left in Indy

Kevin Pritchard’s tweet landed shortly after Thaddeus Young verbally agreed to his three-year deal with the Bulls at the outset of this offseason’s free agency.

Thank you Thad. You’ve changed an organization with you work ethic and professionalism. We wish you only the best in the future! 3T.

Surely, those are words and sentiments the Pacers’ president of basketball operations had said to Young privately. But for an executive to take the time to publicly acknowledge a player upon his leaving is the sign of something special.

“It was huge. It just says how much respect they have for me as a player and person,” Young told NBC Sports Chicago. “It says I did my job. My job was never to become the No. 1 scorer. It was to help build something special. I think that’s what we did there. Everybody played for one another.

“When you walk in (the locker room), we have (a sign with) ‘brotherhood’ on the wall. We have quotes from me and other guys. That’s what it was all about. We made sure when we lined up, each guy knew the guy next to him was going to be there for him. I’m glad I was able to make a great mark on that great franchise.”

Young and the Bulls face the Pacers Friday night in Indianapolis. The 13-year veteran said he “didn’t think too much of it” when the preseason schedule revealed he’d visit his former teammates so early. After all, Young has played for four teams.

But just like in his stints with the 76ers, Timberwolves and Nets, Young bolstered his reputation in Indiana as a durable professional, as solid off the court as on it.

Several teammates talked about his influence in helping the Pacers overcome the season-ending injury to Victor Oladipo to make the playoffs. And Young was one of 12 finalists for the Twyman-Stokes teammate of the year award.

“Obviously, those guys are still like my brothers. We still talk all the time. I talked to Vic the other day about how different it is for them and how much learning the guys have to do about incorporating their system,” Young said. “I have strong ties there. I’m proud of what we built from a culture standpoint.

“But I felt this was a better opportunity for me. Kev and them decided to make the decision to have Domas (Domantas Sabonis) and Myles (Turner) play together a little more and bring in guys who are younger, try to make that shift sooner rather than later. There’s no bad blood. We have great mutual respect for one another. We built culture together there. We helped kind of reshape the franchise. They’re a playoff contending team each year. Now the focus is on trying to do that here, focus on getting these guys better.”

Young already has drawn raves from everyone from Zach LaVine to Wendell Carter Jr. for his vocal leadership style. The fact that he takes charges and dives on the floor for loose balls doesn’t hurt either.

And who needs Zion Williamson when the 6-foot-8-inch Young snuck along the baseline for two slams in Wednesday’s preseason game against the Pelicans?

“I still got a little left in the tank,” Young said, smiling. “I’m trying to stay with the young guys. Everybody says I’m the old guy and I’m only 31. I’m blessed to be in my 13th season. I’m being smart and backdooring certain guys to help the team at all costs.”

Maybe Young can throw down one dunk for Pritchard on Friday.

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Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Bulls fail to close another close game in loss to Raptors


Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Bulls fail to close another close game in loss to Raptors

On this edition of the Bulls Outsiders podcast, Matt Peck, David Watson, and John Sabine react to the Bulls 93-92 loss to Toronto.

0:45 - Reaction to losing another close game

2:00 - Kendall Gill stops by to give Matt Peck a hard time about Derrick Rose

3:30 - On Wendell Carter Jr and wanting more

4:45 - Viewer comment on Bulls shooting 46 three-point attempts

7:20 - Concern over Lauri Markkanen

8:10 - Viewer comment still believing in Lauri

9:40 - Viewer comment on Wendell Carter and Daniel Gafford

12:10 - Viewer comment on running more pick n roll w Zach and Lauri

15:35 - Viewer question on Otto Porter and Hutchison

16:30 - Viewer trade idea: Kevin Love for Markkanen

17:15 - Any comfort in coming close to beating two of the top teams in the East?

20:30 - Viewer comment on losing games

23:00 - Viewer comment on Coby should start

24:05 - Viewer comment pandering to John Sabine

24:40 - Sabine shares his weird dream that involves Jim Boylen

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

In Bulls' loss to Toronto Raptors, Denzel Valentine and Daniel Gafford rejuvenated the United Center

In Bulls' loss to Toronto Raptors, Denzel Valentine and Daniel Gafford rejuvenated the United Center

Monday night, 14,775 fans attended the Bulls' latest in a line of hard-fought defeats: a 93-92 loss to the Toronto Raptors. That's the smallest reported crowd at the United Center for a Bulls game since Dec. 16, 2004.

For stretches, though, it felt like a full house. 

"The UC was great tonight, the fans were awesome," Denzel Valentine said.

The starters carried the team, to start: Of the Bulls' 50 first-half points, 46 were scored by Tomas Satoransky, Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter. But it wasn't the usual suspects that pushed the Chicago faithful's decibel count to levels unheard of in the earlygoing of this season.

Thank Valentine and Daniel Gafford, in large part, for that. With the Bulls trailing 61-58 at the 4:45 mark of the third, Jim Boylen turned to a bench-dominated unit of Coby White, Valentine, Thad Young, Gafford and LaVine to spark his group. It was a potential tipping point in the game: The Raptors were in the midst of an 11-3 run and the Bulls' offense was fizzling. White, Valentine, Young and Gafford had four points between them upon entry.

With that move, the fates tilted towards the home side. For a time.

"It was great minutes from them," Satoransky said of Valentine and Gafford after the game. "I think [Denzel] is feeling more himself right now. And DG will always bring that energy. He's one of the most athletic guys I've ever seen, his energy... will always refresh our game."

It certainly did in this one. Gafford blocked three shots and notched 10 points over the game's final quarter-and-a-half. Valentine scored all 13 of his points for the night after that juncture in the third, shooting 5-for-9 from the floor and 3-for-7 from 3-point range. The Bulls finished the night 12-for-46 from 3-point land.

"Just energy," Valentine said, of what that bench unit brought. "We started playing defense. It started on the defensive end, started in transition, getting rebounds. Played with a little bit more life. Playing with each other too. We were moving the ball together."

"We go in, we produce with the minutes that we get," Gafford said. And on what the fans gave back: "There was definitely energy. I was blocking shots, Denzel was knocking down shots, we were getting stops on defense. We were doing everything we needed to do to win the game, and the crowd helped us do that."

Of course, they didn't do it alone. In spite of not scoring, White played a solid defensive game and finished the night with eight rebounds and five assists. Young and Kris Dunn each hit crucial 3-pointers in the third. But watching Valentine and Gafford ignite the home crowd made it even more surreal that neither of them cracked the regular rotation until mid-to-late November.

"We got a bond," Gafford said. "He finds me when I'm open, and I find him when he's open... We just go out and play basketball."

That strategy helped the Bulls build an 85-77 lead with eight minutes left in the game, but the team's good fortunes faded fast from there. After an alley-oop from Valentine to Gafford gave them their 84th and 85th points of the night, the Bulls didn't score for the next five-and-a-half minutes of game action. The Raptors surged down the stretch. The Bulls scrapped, but ultimately faltered when it mattered most.

Both Gafford and Valentine found themselves in the Bulls' closing lineup — Valentine by way of the hot-hand, Gafford in Carter's stead after he fouled out with just under four minutes remaining. A Valentine transition layup, Markkanen 3-pointer and Gafford layup represented the Bulls' only points of the final eight minutes.

"We gotta learn how to put it away. If we can't at the end of the third quarter, we gotta put it away at the beginning of the fourth," Gafford said. "We just gotta learn how to put it away, seal the deal." 

But, as a team, they didn't. And thus, the bottom line doesn't change. The Bulls won a(nother) moral victory or two tonight, but when the final points were tallied, they were on the short end. That's the only stat that matters, especially to those 14,775 that stood behind their team, in person, tonight.

"It’s disappointing when we don’t win games. It’s disappointing when we don’t win home games," Boylen, who has presided over only 10 home victories in his tenure, said. "Nobody is running from that."

"No excuses, nobody cares, we just gotta come out and play hard and learn from our mistakes," Valentine said. "It's tough, because we lose the last three and we were up in the fourth [quarter], I think, in all of those games. So it's tough. But hopefully at some point we'll figure it out."

Gafford and Valentine provided a jolt, but because of the result, they're only would-be heroes — their combined performance amounts to nothing more than an all-too-familiar silver lining. In some ways, that stings even more.

"That's why this game is so frustrating," Satoransky said. "Because I know we were there. Fans were engaged and I think we played very well, and we missed a lot of shots. You know, that always hurts."

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