Thunder Exec Sends Strong Message on Josh Giddey After Bulls Trade

Chicago Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas has not commented on trading Alex Caruso to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

But Thunder executive vice president and general manager Sam Presti did. Presti, who was Bulls head coach Billy Donovan‘s boss in OKC, explained how Josh Giddey ended up in Chicago.

“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,” Presti said in a statement released through the team on June 21.

“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.”

Presti thanked Giddey for his services. He said that fit was a driving factor in the decision.

Giddey could be stepping into a starting role in Chicago. He averaged 12.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 4.6 assists last season. He is a poor and sometimes unwilling shooter but does get downhill.

Josh Giddey goes behind the back and euros his way to the bucket on TNT!

— NBA (@NBA) April 27, 2024

Presti is not the only one to refer to Giddey as having such a high ceiling, with  ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski saying the same in his reporting on the deal.

“The Bulls have been determined to find a playmaker to replace Lonzo Ball, and Giddey, 21, comes with an All-Star potential,” Wojnarowski posted on X on June 20. “The Bulls will offer him an opportunity to have the ball in his hands and so much more freedom pass and score.”

Presti also praised what Caruso is expected to bring to their group.

Wojnarowski compared the trade to the Golden State Warriors acquiring Andre Iguodala from the Denver Nuggets in 2013. Karnisovas was named Nuggets GM six days after that trade.

Magic’s Plans for Jalen Suggs Could Impact Bulls, Josh Giddey

Ball is tracking to make his return this coming season after a series of knee surgeries. But nothing is guaranteed after he has missed more than two years.

He is also entering the final year of his contract.

Notably, Giddey is in the final year of his contract and will be a restricted free agent next summer. He was the former No. 6 overall pick of the 2021 draft. Giddey also averages 13.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 5.7 assists for his career.

Josh Giddey gets it to go from the floor to give OKC a 1 point lead!

Rockets-Thunder | Live on the NBA App

— NBA (@NBA) March 28, 2024

They should keep an eye on the Orlando Magic’s dealings with guard Jalen Suggs. He was the No. 5 pick in that same class.

“How Suggs’ deal compares to Immanuel Quickley’s likely upcoming new agreement with Toronto — and what type of benchmark that could set for Giddey — will all shape another interesting corner of the NBA marketplace,” Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer wrote on June 21.

Suggs averaged 12.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 2.7 assists with a two-way impact last season.

Insider Questions DeMar DeRozan’s Future After Alex Caruso Trade

The Bulls want to bring DeMar DeRozan back in free agency, and he wants to return. It is unclear how trading Caruso for Giddey impacts either party’s thinking going forward.

“Giddey’s acquisition certainly calls into question the futures of [Lonzo] Ball and DeMar DeRozan,” NBC Sports’ K.C. Johnson wrote on June 21. “As for DeRozan, he and the Bulls have both said publicly that they want the relationship to continue in the form of a new deal. But last year at this time, there was more momentum for Nikola Vucevic to re-sign in this exclusive negotiation period before free agency begins than there is currently for DeRozan.”

DeRozan said he had the Bulls in his top three landing spots during free agency in 2021.

However, he also thought he was going to the Los Angeles Lakers. In December, The Athletic’s Sam Amick reported that the New York Knicks were DeRozan’s preferred landing spot if he was traded at the deadline. He is finishing a three-year, $81.9 million contract.

“All it takes is one phone call and set of negotiations to change that,” Johnson wrote. “But while DeRozan is sincere about being happy in Chicago and the Bulls can pay him more than any other team, he also wants to win. And he was extremely complimentary—almost in awe sometimes—of Caruso during their shared days as teammates.”

DeMar DeRozan on Alex Caruso’s first game back since Dec. 20.

— Darnell Mayberry (@DarnellMayberry) January 20, 2022

DeRozan can sign up to a three-year extension worth $129 million until June 30. Doing so would also allow the Bulls to trade him immediately in a sign-and-trade.

They would have to wait six months after re-signing him if they keep him and move on later.

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