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Thaddeus Young frustrated at lack of playing time but understands the state of the Spurs franchise

"The young guys have to play," Young said.

SAN ANTONIO — Last season, Spurs' Thaddeus Young averaged 24.3 minutes per game with the Bulls before being traded to San Antonio as part of the DeMar DeRozan trade in the offseason.

This season, his playing time has significantly dropped (15.7 minutes per game) and he admits it's been frustrating to experience.

Speaking with "The Alex Kennedy Podcast," the Spurs forward voiced his frustration over the lack of playing time. 

“So far this season I haven’t really played as much as I’ve played in the past but with the time I have been given, I’ve been productive during that time and going out there and playing some," said Young.

This isn't the first time Young voices his displeasure over the lack of playing time.

Following the team's recent win over Washington, he mentioned it again but remains positive and ready for when his number is called.

"Even though I’m not playing a lot of minutes, I still go to the gym. I’m doing things that a 15-year veteran shouldn’t be doing," he said.

San Antonio is in the midst of a rebuild. Playing Young major minutes may eat into playing time for the younger players who factor long term in the team's future.

Those reps on the court will mean more for some of the younger players over Young who may not factor into the team's future plans.

It may be tough for the 14-year NBA veteran but he understands the state of the franchise.

"It's super tough. It's very tough and frustrating at times but at the end of the day, I understand where this franchise [Spurs] is going," Young said. "I understand what's happening. The young guys have to play."

Credit: AP
Dallas Mavericks center Dwight Powell (7) and San Antonio Spurs forward Thaddeus Young (30) chase a rebound during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Nov. 12, 2021, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Despite the playing time, he's taken a mentor role with San Antonio. 

He's one of the few veterans on the team and is passing on what it takes for some of the younger players to have a prolonged career that has benefited him.

"Having that level of consistency," said Young about what he is teaching the younger players. "Make sure you bring the same thing, the same output that the coach is asking of you every single game."

The 2021-22 Spurs roster is the youngest in Gregg Popovich's tenure with an average age of 24.5. The opening-day roster this season includes eight players under the age of 25 and 13-of-17 players under the age of 27.

RELATED: NBA veteran Thaddeus Young sees poise and more from Spurs rookie Primo

That is a significant age gap between the young players and Young (33 years old) but he takes it in stride and understands that it just matters that they can relate on the court. "Sometimes you do feel like you're playing with some kids but at the end of the day, just understanding where you are and they are," he said. "It's hard to relate."

Young is averaging 7.3 points per game including 3.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists through 16 games played this season. He's making the most of the time he gets on the floor and is productive.

It is an open question if the Spurs will attempt to trade him, buy him out or simply carry him on the roster until the season's end.

He is a nice trade piece the team can use but so far in the young season, he's proving to be a stabilizing force for the young Spurs on the court and in the locker room.

"I understand what I need to do as far as my job going out there, and that’s to help the young guys continue to get better and also help my team win and bring energy," Young said Monday night.

However, when looking back at how he got traded to the Spurs, he admits he was caught by surprise and wishes the news hit him in a better way.

“Definitely caught me off guard for the simple fact that I had just talked to my agent and my agent had just talked to everybody in Chicago, and we were being told that I was coming back,” he said. “The only thing I had wished was that I had got the heads-up before I found out from social [media]."

Twitter at @KENS5 and at @JeffGSpursKENS5.