Bulls forward Thad Young is embarking on a new basketball venture that will keep him busy after his playing career ends.
Young is in the process of purchasing a minority ownership stake in the Brisbane Bullets of the National Basketball League, a nine-team league with eight clubs based in Australia and another in New Zealand. Young confirmed the news Friday, a day after Marc Stein of the New York Times first reported it. Young, 32, expects his purchase to be finalized within a week or so.
“I look at that league as primed for growth with young talent,” Young said in explaining his interest. “Between me being able to kind of help facilitate a lot of the young talent but also being more than just a value add through capital with my expertise and knowledge around the game and relationships I have in the business world, I thought that was a really good move for me. The league is primed for growth.”
In recent years, the NBL has emerged as an alternative path to the NBA for top prospects who don’t want to attend college stateside. That’s the route Hornets rookie point guard LaMelo Ball took before being drafted No. 3 overall in November. Ball played in 12 games for the Illawarra Hawks last season, when he was partially hampered by injuries. Nuggets guard R.J. Hampton, the No. 20 pick in the draft last November, also played in the NBL.
“The NBL has done a really good job the last couple years of kind of bursting onto the scene,” Young said. “R.J. Hampton and LaMelo kind of made it known a little bit. I see that as a league where guys can go if they don’t want to go to college and want to come out of high school and be able to grow their games a little. With me having an AAU program that plays under the Nike circuit, I get to see a lot of the kids and have a relationship with a lot of the kids and also get a chance to help grow their games. The league is doing really well. The guys are doing a really good job over there of growing it from what I’ve heard and what I’ve Googled and what I’ve done with my due diligence process over the past two months. I’ve seen the league is primed for growth.”
Former NBA guard Kevin Martin is Brisbane’s majority owner. He and Young played together in Minnesota in the 2014-’15 season and have a close relationship.
“We’ve been good friends since Minnesota,” Young said. “He definitely played a role. He reached out to me and asked me if I’d be opposed to it. I told him to send me everything, and I’d look over it. When I started to dive into it, I started to see that it really made sense for me to do. It’s fresh. The league is still early. That’s when you usually get in on some of these investments. You get in on the early side and help it grow over the course of time so you can obviously see multiples in your capital but you’re also part of something you can help grow. Kevin played a really huge part in me getting in on this.”
Cody Westerlund is a sports editor for 670TheScore.com and covers the Bulls. Follow him on Twitter @CodyWesterlund.