Thad Young handled the question so adeptly, it’s almost as if he knew it was coming and slid over in front of it to take a charge -- just like he has eight times this season.
With Young playing at such a high level and his trade value only rising, what does he want to have happen by the time the March 25 deadline comes and goes?
“I'm here with the Chicago Bulls. I signed up for the Chicago Bulls, I took a contract with the Chicago Bulls. So I'm here. I let AK and (general manager) Marc (Eversley) worry about what they want to do with the team and as long as I'm on the roster, you're going to get 110 percent from me,” Young said, referencing executive vice president Artūras Karnišovas’ nickname. “It shows when I go out there. I'm taking charges. I'm going to go out there and continue to try my best on defense. I'm going to try to help the team get in the best possible way as far as scoring the basketball.
“I'm just going to do my job and worry about my job and my job only and making sure I help this team get wins. If they see fit to do what they have to do as far as a business, I understand it. It's not my first rodeo. I've been there before. But at the end of the day, I'm here and I'm ready to go each and every day with my brothers.”
Indeed, Young has been traded three times in his 14-year career. He already entered this season as an attractive trade target for a multitude of reasons that include his dependability, versatility, professionalism and team-friendly contract that features only $6 million of $14.2 million guaranteed next season.
Tack on how well Young is playing this season -- he flirted with his first career triple-double Monday night against the Celtics -- and his value only likely will rise higher.
In a testament to how much about the team he is, Young, who scored 16 points, didn’t even know he fell one rebound and one assist shy of his first triple-double.
“Zach (LaVine) actually told me when we got in the locker room when we were sitting down icing and stuff. He told me, he was like, 'Damn, Thad.' I was like, 'What?' And he was like, 'You almost had a triple-double.' And I was like, 'Oh, for real?' I didn't know. That tells you how much I was paying attention to stats. I was just trying to win the basketball game,” Young said. “I'm highly pissed off because we didn't get the win, whether I had 2 points or 25 points or a triple-double or nothing. As long as we win basketball games, that's my only focus.”
This mindset could be attractive to championship-contending teams looking for that final piece as the deadline nears.
Plus, those eight charges taken ranks second in the NBA, tied with Blake Griffin and just one behind co-leaders Kyle Lowry and Montrezl Harrell. Young also averages 2.3 deflections per game in 24.2 minutes, which is tied for 16th and one of the best per-minute averages in the league.
Young’s value on the Bulls, both with his on-court production and off-court leadership, has never been higher. It’s just as likely he stays put.
Karnišovas has made clear that salary cap flexibility for the 2021 offseason is important to him. So any potential deal involving Young would have to factor in any potential long-term contract coming back making sense and being the right fit.