Tonight Thaddeus Young will play his first game at Target Center since being traded to the Brooklyn Nets for Kevin Garnett Feb. 19.
One reason for the trade was the Wolves' desire to get someting in return for Young, who had indicated to the Wolves that he wouild not exercise the $9.721 million option he has for next year. The Wolves ended up bringing Garnett home.
Young has not indicated whether he will exercise his option in order to stay with the Nets. But Brooklyn, which is still at least in the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference, got a young player who can help then down the stretch. The Wolves, meanwhile, got the return of Garnett, whose influence on the young players is more important at this point than what he does on the court.
To Young, it was a case of both teams benefiting from the move. It was also a move he felt was necessary, which is why he told the team about his decision not to return to the team next season.
“I think it was more of just where we were going (as a team),’’ he said after the Nets' morning shootaround. “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 early injuries to Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin essentially changed the Wolves’ priorities, with coach and president of basketball operations Flip Saunders opting for the chance to develop young players. The Wolves traded veteran forward/guard Corey Brewer to Houston in December and veteran 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. “But I think they did a very good job, as far as going out there and shopping around, working with my agent, working with me personally as a player. Just keeping me abreast of the situation. The good thing was, there wasn’t anything behind closed doors or anything going on crazy.’’
Young’s one regret in his time in Minnesota was that, in his opinion, he didn’t hit his stride until right before the All Star break. “I wish it could have been a little better, as far as the start to the season,” he said. “But I built some relationships here, loved the fans, loved the support I was given here.’’
Young has averaged 13.0 points and 4.7 rebounds while playing about 25 minutes per game in Brooklyn. That compares to averages of 14.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 33½ minutes with the Wolves. But Young’s production has improved since being inserted into the Nets starting lineup four games ago. Saturday, in a victory over Philadelphia, Young scored 21 points with nine rebounds, both highs with the Nets.
“He’s played well since he’s been here,” Nets coach Lionel Hollins said. “But he’s still not acclimated to everything we do. But basketball is basketball, and he has good instincts. So he’s been able to play well. But he still doesn’t’ know all the calls. He doesn’t know all the defensive schemes yet. So the process is ongoing.”
Meanwhile, the Wolves have released their injury report for tonight’s game. Garnett (sore left knee), Gary Neal (right ankle), Pekovic (right ankle) and Rubio (right ankle) are all listed as questionable. Anthony Bennett (right ankle), Robbie Hummel (right hand) and Shabazz Muhammad (finger surgery) are out.
That’s about it for now. I’ll get back to you before tonight’s game.