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Did the Chicago Bulls receive enough in exchange for trading Alex Caruso?

Did the Chicago Bulls receive enough in exchange for trading Alex Caruso?

Did the Chicago Bulls receive enough in exchange for trading Alex Caruso?

It had been almost 34 months since the Chicago Bulls last made a trade. But this week, the drought finally ended as the front office made what appears to be the first in a series of moves to restructure the roster after another disappointing season.

Moving Alex Caruso to Oklahoma City in a player-for-player trade for Josh Giddey is a deal that seems to indicate that executive vice president of basketball operations Artūras Karnišovas could make good on his word to “explore all options” and make changes in the Bulls. ready this summer.

But was this the right move and the right return? Let’s break down the trade and how it affects both teams.

For the Thunder, this is a piece of cake. Like a shot from the free throw line, make a crack in the backboard. Caruso is the type of high-IQ, high-effort defender who will immediately elevate the Thunder, while his three-point shooting has sharpened enough to bolster one of the league’s best offenses.

In a statement Friday, Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti said the Thunder had already determined that Giddey would need to come off the bench next season, a decision that triggered a trade request.

This doesn’t mean Giddey can’t make an impact. The Bulls are quite familiar with the concept of a change of scenery that benefits players, and most recently saw that when Derrick Jones Jr. transformed from a deep rotation player in Chicago to a crucial starter in an NBA Finals in Dallas in a single game. season. But the Thunder essentially traded a troubled bench project for a ready-made veteran with a championship already under his belt, an important victory for a team already primed to challenge for a title next season.

How did the Bulls do in comparison?

It’s a little less clear what the Bulls are getting from Giddey. He struggled mightily last season shooting from behind the arc, one of the areas where Caruso thrived and where the Bulls need the most drastic improvement. Giddey shot 33.7% on three attempts per game and an abysmal 18.8% stretch during the Western Conference semifinals that ultimately forced him out of the Thunder’s starting lineup.

As a playmaker, Giddey has been held up as a prototypical “replacement” for Lonzo Ball, who will try to become the first NBA player to return from meniscus and knee cartilage transplants. That’s a bit of an unfair framing. Giddey can’t replace Ball as a defender or shooter (although it’s a distant memory; Ball was shooting 42.3% on 7.4 attempts from behind the arc before his injury).

But what Giddey can replicate is creation and innovation, something the Bulls have craved in Ball’s two years away. Even after making Coby White the starting point guard last season, the Bulls struggled with offensive creativity in the second half of the season. It’s clear the team could benefit from a true playmaker at the point, allowing White to flex his growth from the two-guard position.

The Thunder's Josh Giddey drives over the Nuggets' Bones Hyland during the third quarter on Oct. 3, 2022. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post)
The Thunder’s Josh Giddey drives over the Nuggets’ Bones Hyland during the third quarter on Oct. 3, 2022. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post)

Giddey is young enough to improve his shooting and defense is still a real possibility with the right system. This is clearly an investment piece and addresses at least one real need for the Bulls.

Even with this positive outlook, a serious question still remains: Could the Bulls have gotten more out of the Thunder?

Oklahoma City has more hidden draft capital than almost any NBA team, with a handful of first-rounders in 2024 and 2025. The Bulls received offers for Caruso in the form of first-rounders before the trade deadline, but according to a Yahoo Sports report, the board resisted choosing up to four first-round picks.

Caruso is such a clear fit for the Thunder that it’s hard to believe the Bulls couldn’t have reached a more amicable deal that included one of those first-round picks. While it’s impossible to predict future value, it’s hard to argue that Giddey and Caruso are of similar value right now.