Young embraces veteran role for rebuilding Sixers

Young embraces veteran role for rebuilding Sixers

August 9, 2013, 9:00 am
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Thaddeus Young, who is entering his seventh season in the NBA, is the longest-tenured Sixer on the roster. (USA Today Images)

Thaddeus Young was back in Philadelphia this week, lending a hand to the community as he has done for the past six years.

Young hosted a children's basketball camp at Girard College. He was present every morning before heading over to the Sixers’ practice facility to work out.

Like any person associated with the Sixers, Young has repeatedly been asked the same set of questions by friends and strangers alike throughout the summer:

“'Who’s the coach? Have you guys found a coach yet?'” Young repeated, smiling. 

He always responds with the same answer.

“No, but we have been interviewing people and going through the necessary process to find the right coach,” Young said.

That's as straightforward as it gets. However, the 25-year-old forward would not be completely in the wrong if he were to show some frustration with the Sixers' situation at head coach. After all, Young, who enters his seventh season in the league as the longest-tenured Sixer on the roster, has seen his share of new faces holding a clipboard during games.

“This will be my fifth coach. Maurice Cheeks, Tony DiLeo, Eddie Jordan, Doug Collins and then this person,” Young said. “That is a hard-fought six years. I am going into my seventh [season]. Hopefully, this next coach is here for a very long time like a Coach Popovich. Hopefully, we can have some longevity and I can continue to be a part of the Sixers.”

Young ran into Michael Curry during one of his trips to PCOM. Similar to how people have had questions for Young, he had one of his own for the man who served as the Sixers' associate head coach under Doug Collins.

“I walked in and said, 'Are they going to give you the job or what?” Young recounted. “He said he didn’t know but that he was going to continue to do his job, 'do what I need to do to help you guys get better.’

Curry has continued to do just that, even coaching the Sixers' summer league team in Orlando.

Young believes that work ethic and a familiarity with the team makes Curry a nice replacement for Collins.

"I think he would be the perfect man for the job. He already knows the players and he knows what we need and what we need structure-wise to win games," Young said. "And he is great defensively. He is a great candidate for the job and I for sure would love to see him as a coach. But that is Sam’s (Hinkie) job. To go out there and basically find the best coach, the best person for the job.”

Hinkie has been the Sixers' president and general manager since mid-May. He made his first splash on draft night when he traded All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday to New Orleans for Nerlens Noel and a protected first-round draft pick in 2014.

“My first tweet was ‘Wow,’” Young said. “I talked to Jrue, because at the time he was preparing for his wedding, but he said he was actually house shopping at the time he found out he was moved. I said, ‘Are you serious?’ And he said, ‘Yep.’ It was one of those situations where it snuck up on all of us. It is the nature of the business and we just have to keep ourselves prepared for any given day.”

Young does not worry about his own stability with the team that drafted him in 2007 despite having the highest salary on the current roster. He is owed nearly $27.5 million for the next three seasons and is playing for an organization that is looking to be in a great salary cap position in the future to attract high-profile free agents.

“Anybody can be traded in the NBA,” Young said. “Any given day, someone can get traded and have to move to the next city. This is the NBA. It is the life we live in and the job we chose.

"I don’t have any worries about getting traded. If I get traded, it was a business decision, a move that had to be made. If I am not, then you know what you are going to get out of me. I am going to be here each and every day, 24/7, ready to go hard for my team.”

That team Young is prepared to go to battle for is unquestionably in rebuilding mode. The Sixers will likely start a rookie point guard in Michael Carter-Williams and Noel is still months away from being ready for game action after undergoing surgery in February to repair a torn ACL.

Young understands the Sixers' outlook for next season and that bleak times could be ahead. He is also prepared for the emotions that come along with a rebuilding franchise and is prepared to help the younger players that might not exactly know how to handle the situation.

“It is the toughest ever,” Young said. “The first text message I sent to MCW was ‘The ball is going to be in your hands with you being the point guard and floor general. You are going to take the blame for a lot of stuff. I am going to try and help you. I’ll say it was my fault because that is what veterans do.'

"They try and keep the young guys’ bad thoughts out of their head. You say it was my fault and then go to them and say, 'Try and do it this way and that will be the right way.’ I am going to try and help him as much as possible.”

Currently, Young, who averaged 14.8 points and a career-high 7.5 rebounds last season, is in the gym in the attempt to improve his own game. The lefty is sharpening his three-point shooting and ball-handling skills because, despite not having a coach, he has been told what style of play the Sixers plan on implementing in the future.

“My understanding is we want to be a running team that is going to put up a lot of shots and try and get out in transition and do many different things with the basketball,” Young said. “So I have really been working on my ball-handling and my shooting.”

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