The Sixers now have 13 players under contract for the 2011-12 season; the NBA maximum is 15.
"We had to have him," Sixers coach Doug Collins said of Young after the team's first practice of the season at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. "I was so scared that somebody was going to throw some ridiculously crazy money out there at him and put us in the trick bag. I'm glad that didn't happen."
Only 20 minutes into Friday's practice, Collins received word that the Sixers and Young had tentatively agreed to a deal. He relayed the info to the rest of the team.
"It wasn't a big surprise to us," explained guard Lou Williams. "We kind of expected Thad to come back. We understand the business aspect of it, but we knew where his heart was and we knew the team wanted him back as well."
Young entered this offseason - delayed for five-plus months by a lockout - as a restricted free agent, which meant that if another team signed Young to a contract, the Sixers would have three days to match. The Sixers announced their intention to the rest of the league: They planned to match any "reasonable" offer for the forward, who has career averages of 12.5 points and 4.9 rebounds a game.
For much of the week, it seemed Young's camp was willing to wait for the bombshell offer, something closer to $10 million a season - the Sixers were sticking in the $8 million a year range - that would put the onus on the Sixers front office. But as the days dwindled, and as training camp approached, it seemed less likely that the bombshell offer would come and more likely that Young - always a team player - would miss crucial preseason time.
The two sides came together on Friday afternoon and hashed out a fair offer.
"I texted him [before practice] and I said, 'We're going to miss you here today,' " Collins said, relaying a text exchange with Young. "And he said, 'I hope we get it done soon.' "
Young, 23, is 6-foot-8 and has averaged 28.1 minutes a game in his four seasons with the Sixers. If Young exercises his fifth-year option, his contract will run through the 2015-16 season.
"I expected Thad to come back," said power forward Elton Brand. "I was leery of other teams making a big offer for him . . . I was kind of worried, but I expected him to come back."
Battie spent last season with the Sixers, appearing in 38 games and averaging 2.6 points and 2.6 rebounds a game. Battie, 35, provides a veteran presence in the frontcourt.
The Sixers are still hopeful of bringing back starting center Spencer Hawes, who is also a restricted free agent.
Contact staff writer Kate Fagan at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/DeepSixer3, and read her blog, Deep Sixer, on Philly.com.