Thaddeus Young will do ‘whatever it takes’ in veteran role for Suns

Feb 21, 2024, 8:03 PM | Updated: 8:25 pm

Thaddeus Young arrives in the Valley as a signing off the buyout market after the Phoenix Suns nearly acquired him in a trade on two separate occasions.

There was the 2014 deadline when a Suns team surprising everyone was pushing for a playoff spot, and then there were similar circumstances in 2021 when a Phoenix squad that would make the NBA Finals was vying for Young.

A full decade later after the first attempt, Young is now with the Suns.

“Once I got on the phone with (general manager) James (Jones) and coach (Frank Vogel), that was the first thing we said, ‘Finally we have a chance to get together and do work together.'” Young told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Wednesday. “So this is a great time and a great experience. I’m happy to be a Phoenix Sun and I’m just ready to get to work.”

Like nearly every player that gets bought out, there are questions attached to Young’s ability to impact games still at the age of 35. He had a sporadic role for the Toronto Raptors each of the last two seasons, and in Year 17 of his career, is more suited to be an undersized center as opposed to the versatile power forward he was during the prime of his career.

Young mentioned that type of role when talking about why he chose to come to Phoenix.

“I felt like it was the best fit for me to come in and not only just play but help with mentoring young guys as well. … As well as coming and helping the team when we decide to go into that small-ball lineup with a smaller 5, which could be me,” Young said. “I have the ability and a certain skill set to be able to come out of those double-teams when [Kevin Durant] is getting doubled or you have [Devin Booker] getting doubled or [Bradley Beal] getting doubled to be able to make reads and plays out of the double-team and make the right decisions.

“And I think another thing was the defensive versatility I can bring to the team, being a small-ball 5 or going in that 4 spot brings us another dynamic on the defensive side of the basketball.”

Young noted how having the option of going to small ball can play a “big role” in determining the outcome of a playoff series.

Drafted in 2007, Young shares that distinction with Durant. He said that’s a friendship that goes back 20 years. Both were in similar high school all-star games as emerging young talents, allowing them to connect before the big-time spotlight of the NBA came calling. Young said he’s also got a rapport with Booker, Beal and Eric Gordon.

Young is a high-IQ player that is also known as a good guy to have in the locker room, and him discussing what his role could potentially look like on the Suns painted that picture of why he’s a valuable addition for Phoenix, regardless of if he plays or not.

“Honestly, for me, I told Frank this and I told James this, I’m a ‘whatever it takes’ type of guy. So, whatever it takes. If it’s nights where I’m not playing, hey, so be it. I’ll figure out other ways to stay engaged with the game and help young guys on the bench stay engaged in the game. If there’s nights where I’m playing, I’m gonna give you my all 100% and I’m gonna do whatever it takes to help us get that win. … I’ve seen a lot of basketball, I’ve played a lot of basketball — there’s probably only two guys on the roster that’s played over 1,000 basketball games and that’s probably me and KD. So like I said I’ve seen a lot and I understand what the role is and what’s needed at certain points in time.”

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