On the day he returned to Target Center for the first time since being traded to the Nets, Thaddeus Young said it was a change in the team’s focus that convinced him he wouldn’t be a part of the team’s future.

Young’s short tenure with the team ended Feb. 19 when he was traded to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Kevin Garnett. When announcing the trade, Wolves GM Milt Newton said Young had told the team he would not exercise his $9.721 million option for next season, so the Wolves were determined to get something of value in a trade rather than let Young walk after the season.

In the end the Nets, still on the periphery of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, got a young player to help them down the stretch. The Wolves were able to bring Garnett home, expecting his influence on Minnesota’s young players would be more important than what he would bring to the court.

To Young, it was a case of both teams benefitting from the move. It was also a move he felt was necessary.

“I think it was more of just where we were going [as a team],’’ Young said after the Nets’ shootaround Monday morning. “We went from being a team that could have possibly, potentially, made the playoffs with everyone being healthy to where we were trading guys and just getting younger. The direction changed throughout the course of the season.’’

Critical injuries early in the season to Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin changed the approach of Flip Saunders, coach and president of basketball operations.

The season became more about developing youth than about winning. The Wolves traded veteran forward/guard Corey Brewer to Houston in December and veteran point guard Mo Williams to Charlotte in February.

“At that point in time, with the direction we were going, that was probably likeliest to happen,” Young said of the trade.

That said, Young said he enjoyed his time with the Wolves, appreciated the team keeping him in the loop when making trade inquiries.

He praised the team’s fans and said his one regret was that it took him a while to hit his stride this season.

Moved into the starting lineup by coach Lionel Hollins four games ago, Young’s production has increased; in Saturday’s victory over Philadelphia, Young scored 21 points with nine rebounds, both highs with the Nets.

Eight is enough

For the second consecutive game Saunders was forced to go into it with only eight healthy players. Garnett (sore left knee), Rubio (right ankle), Pekovic (right ankle) and Gary Neal (right ankle) all sat again.

At least one player should be back soon. Saunders said Rubio is expected to play Wednesday in Toronto.

“He tweaked it,” Saunders said. “He thought another two days’ rest would be good for him, with those back-to-backs coming up.’’



• Saunders said Garnett was planning on getting a second opinion on his knee Monday night.

Robbie Hummel has been doing some ball-handling and shooting in his comeback from a broken right hand.