Sam Presti Explains Thunder Trading Josh Giddey For Alex Caruso

Josh Giddey, Alex Caruso, Oklahoma City Thunder, Chicago Bulls, NBA News
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

During the Oklahoma City Thunder’s playoff run, Josh Giddey struggled to find his place. He proved to be a weak link, playing off the ball offensively while being a defender the opposition attacked. The 6th overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft will now get a fresh start elsewhere after being traded to the Chicago Bulls in exchange for Alex Caruso

Giddey was a productive player in the Thunder’s first-round sweep against the New Orleans Pelicans. The highlight of his postseason performance was his 21 points, eight rebounds, and six assists in Game 3. He averaged 12.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 3.3 assists in 26.5 minutes per game in the series, including shooting 50.0% from beyond the arc on 4.5 attempts per game. 

Giddey’s results plummeted against the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference semifinals. He was targeted defensively and didn’t provide sufficient floor spacing on offense, allowing the Mavericks to double off him and clog the paint. He averaged only 6.2 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 1.3 assists in 12.7 minutes per game in the series. Isaiah Joe replaced Giddey in the starting lineup for the series’ final two games.

NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: Josh Giddey, Chicago Bulls, Alex Caruso, Oklahoma City Thunder Updates

Thunder GM Sam Presti acknowledged that the team, alongside many observers, concluded that Giddey should come off the bench next season. However, Giddey, facing a contract year, was unwilling to accept that role and requested a trade. Presti announced that Giddey had been traded to the Bulls for Caruso.

“When we drafted Josh in 2021 he was an essential aspect of our vision for the next iteration of the Thunder. Since then, our team has evolved rapidly and dynamically in ways we could never have anticipated,” Presti wrote. “Therefore, as we began our internal discussions this off-season, it was determined that bringing Josh off the bench next season was our best option to maximize his many talents and deploy our team more efficiently over 48 minutes.

“As we laid out to Josh how he could lean into his strengths and ultimately optimize our current roster and talent, it was hard to for him to envision, and conversations turned to him inquiring about potential opportunities elsewhere. As always was the case, Josh demonstrated the utmost professionalism throughout the discussions. Josh has All-Star potential, but accessing that in the current construct of the Thunder would not be optimal for the collective. Based on these discussions we decided to move forward and prioritize what was best for the organization.”

NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: Josh Giddey, Chicago Bulls, Alex Caruso, Oklahoma City Thunder Updates

The Bulls may have faltered because they failed to acquire a first-round pick. Chicago could have acquired multiple first-rounders for Caruso at the trade deadline, but they opted for a straight-up exchange. To avoid losing Caruso for nothing, the Bulls must decide whether to extend Giddey this offseason or next, but they have time to sort it out.

Due to this trade, a new elite defender joins the Thunder’s starting lineup. With over 40% shooting from three last season, Caruso is a perfect fit to complement Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jalen Williams, and Chet Holmgren by making opposing teams respect him as a spacer.

“He is the quintessential Thunder player; he is an exceptional competitor and teammate with a multi-dimensional skillset,” Presti said of Caruso. “His presence and game will help elevate the core of our team.”

NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: Josh Giddey, Chicago Bulls, Alex Caruso, Oklahoma City Thunder Updates

By making this move, Oklahoma City improves its roster, increasing its competitiveness in the Western Conference. When the sides can officially negotiate in six months, the Thunder are expected to reach an agreement with Caruso regarding an extension.

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