The Chicago Bulls fanbase is pretty fond of Thaddeus Young.
There is a great appreciation for the work he put in for 2 years in Chicago. However, the Bulls had to part ways with him to secure DeMar DeRozan in a sign-and-trade deal with the San Antonio Spurs, thus you won’t hear many grumblings considering Deebo is having an MVP season. Young isn’t playing much with the Spurs, but when he does, he is still producing. Perhaps that’s why Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey has him regarded as one of the NBA’s most underrated players.
Young Has Produced With Limited Minutes
Bailey called Young and end-of-the-bench guy, but that’s not what his per-75-possessions metrics suggest.
“After a legitimate breakout campaign in his age-32 season with the Chicago Bulls, Thaddeus Young has found himself in and out of Gregg Popovich’s rotation with the San Antonio Spurs in 2021-22,” Bailey writes. “When he does get the chance to play, though, he continues to look like a versatile, playmaking big who can defend multiple positions. Since the start of last season, Young has a top-40 assist rate, with averages of 17.7 points, 9.2 rebounds, 6.4 dimes, 1.7 steals and 0.8 blocks per 75 possessions.”
That’s the kind of production many contending teams will probably covet, which could make him a strong trade asset for the Spurs around the deadline. Bailey concurs:
“For a team in the middle of a soft rebuild, the 33-year-old hasn’t had an opportunity to show that off (he’s averaged just 14.0 minutes in 23 appearances), but that’s the kind of well-rounded production plenty of contenders should be after.”
Can the Chicago Bulls Get Thaddeus Young Back?
That’s a question several Bulls fans have probably asked over the past 5 months. The answer, as we learned from long-time salary cap guru and Heavy writer Mark Deeks, is probably not. NBA rules prohibit the Bulls from acquiring Young in a straight-up trade with the Spurs because he has already been traded between the two teams within the timeframe of the current season/offseason. The Bulls couldn’t acquire Young in a trade from the Spurs until the offseason, which is a moot point because he will be an unrestricted free agent.
The Bulls can’t even sign Young if the Spurs buy him out. Another NBA rule prevents teams from signing a waived player that they have traded until the beginning of the following season. Again, Young will be an unrestricted free agent at that point.
Deeks breaks down the only way the Bulls could get Young back.
“The only possible workaround would be for the Spurs to trade Young to another team, and for that team to then waive him – after that, the Bulls would be free to sign Young again this season,” Deeks wrote. “But for that to happen, a team would need to trade for Young and immediately not want him. This seems overwhelmingly unlikely to happen, and therefore, so does Young’s return to Chicago.”
Unless the Bulls know that Young wants to rejoin them, and they can convince a team to acquire Young for the purpose of waiving him, we won’t see Young in a Bulls uniform again this season.
Who knows? Maybe he’ll still be a potentially valuable player for the Bulls next season when they can sign him outright.
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