At the end of the 2013-14 season, Thaddeus Young was the only member on the Philadelphia 76ers' roster who played on the team that ended up one game away from beating the Boston Celtics to get to the Eastern Conference Finals in the 2012 NBA playoffs.
He is now gone.
Trading away Young is like going to the doctor to get a shot. Sure, you hate seeing the needle, and thinking about how much it's going to hurt. The pain that comes when it actually hits you is worse, and you're counting down the time until it's over.
But then it's done. The needle is gone and there's no blood to be seen. You know you're going to be sore for a short amount of time, but the worst of it is over. Not only are you done with your shot, but the thought of a healthier future is one that made everything you went through worth it.
That's the hidden beauty in what Philadelphia did by moving Young. He was the heart and soul of the team, a player who showed people how good he was when most undervalued him. To be honest, he was probably the franchise's most liked and well-respected player.
Still though, the Sixers ended up trading him to the Minnesota Timberwolves as part of a three-team deal. There was a lot of hesitation when it came to thinking about Young being moved at all.
Just like when you see the needle for the first time.
The news released that he was actually moved, and the thoughts began to sink in. Reliving all of his positive moments, his great attitude, made thinking about him leaving hurt a little.
Similar to the pain associated with the shot going in.
Now it's time to both wish him well and look at all of the positives that could come out of the situation. Sure it might take some time, but all parties have a real chance at being better off because of the deal.
Let's take a look at some of the reasons why trading away Young was a good move for everyone involved.
Thaddeus Young's Future
Averaging 13.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game over the course of seven years should be applauded. Raising those numbers to 17.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.1 steals during the 2013-14 season shows the degree to which Young is actually getting better.
He's been a member of the Sixers since 2007, but he is still quite young, having recently turned 26 over the summer. It's not that farfetched to believe Young's best days as a player are ahead of him.
And one can certainly argue that trading him to a different team was in his best interest.
Though the Timberwolves might not be the best situation in the short-run, they're nonetheless trending upwards right now faster than Philadelphia. Their roster is more balanced, and Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, Zach LaVine and Ricky Rubio give the team a core that should improve quicker than does Philly's.
On top of that, Young will also have the opportunity to join free agency at the end of next season were he to opt out of his player option. Free-agency could give him the chance to join a championship-caliber squad immediately, while he's still in his prime.
The Sixers moved their best player in Young, but it's going to be a great opportunity to see how well he can help a team that's on the rise, as opposed to one in decline banking on future greatness.
The Sixers Are Still at Least Four Years Away from Where They Want to Be
Having a very good player around to teach the younger players is crucial, but it's an argument for keeping Young on the roster that only made sense in about three or four years, when all of Philadelphia's young talent is ready to take the next step.
There are a number of problems with that thought process, though. The first of which is that Young will be 29 or 30 years old at that time. He'll still be an excellent player, but only for a handful of seasons. There's a chance the Sixers could be getting better at the same time that Young is getting worse.
That's not good for either side.
Would Young have stayed beyond next season? The 2014-15 campaign would have been the last before he had the option to opt out of his contract. It would have given him the decision to move on at that point.
Instead, Philadelphia saw the writing on the wall and decided to bite the bullet and get some value for him while they could. Acquiring Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Alexey Shved in the deal won't have much impact, but getting the Miami Heat's top-10 protected 2015 first-round draft pick certainly sweetens the deal a bit.
It's going to be strange not seeing Young in a Sixers jersey during the upcoming season. He's been a staple of the franchise for the past seven years.
Still though, the end of one brief era means a new one is beginning. There will be some initial pains as the Sixers grow and develop, but the worst is behind them.
Exactly like when you leave the doctor's office, and you know it's all taken care of.