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NBA Trade Grades for First Trade of The 2024 Offseason and What’s Next For The Bulls and Thunder

The Chicago Bulls and Oklahoma City Thunder hooked up for the first NBA trade of the 2024 offseason yesterday. The Bulls sent defensive ace Alex Caruso to the Thunder for Josh Giddey in a straight-up swap. While the trade won’t become official until July 6, here is a look at which team got the better end of the deal.

NBA Trade Grades for First Trade of The 2024 Offseason

Caruso is considered one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA. The 30-year-old guard was selected to the second-team all-NBA Defensive squad this past season after being a first-team choice last year. He had spent the previous three years with the Bulls after playing four campaigns with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Caruso also had a career offensive season in 2023-24, producing 10.1 points, 3.5 assists, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.7 steals. Caruso made 1.9 3-pointers a game with shooting splits of 46.8/40.8/76.0%. He scored in double-figures in 39 of his 71 career-high appearances, topping the 20-point mark twice while producing one double-double.

Meanwhile, Giddey has not developed as the Thunder had hoped when they selected him with the sixth pick in the 2021 draft. However, the 21-year-old put up quality numbers this past season despite seeing a significant drop in minutes from the 2022-23 campaign. He also improved defensively.

Giddey averaged 12.3 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 4.8 assists this past season. The 6-8 guard also slightly improved his 3-point shooting, making one triple a game with a shooting split 47.5/33.7/80.6%.

Giddey scored in double-figures in 54 of his 80 appearances, topping the 20-point mark 10 times, which included tying his career-high 31 points. Giddey, who produced 10 double-doubles and three triple-doubles, grabbed double-figure rebounds nine times. He also doled out double-digit assists on three occassions.

Why Did The Deal Happen?

Caruso was a highly sought-after player this season as he entered the final year of his contract. But it seems that the Bulls and Thunder made the trade because of Giddey’s reluctance to come off the bench again.

“As we began our internal discussions this offseason, 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,” OKC Thunder Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti told “We laid out to Josh how he could lean into his strengths and ultimately optimize our current roster and talent. It was hard 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.”

Caruso will make $9.89 million in 2024-25, the final year of a four-year deal. Meanwhile, Giddey will make $8.32 million this year and could be a restricted free agent next season.

Caruso played for head coach Mark Daigneault for two seasons with the G-League OKC Blue.

Here is more from Presti:

Alex Caruso is a player we have always highly valued and followed. He is the quintessential Thunder player; he is an exceptional competitor and teammate with a multi-dimensional skillset. His presence and game will help elevate the core of our team as we continue to strive to build a sustainably elite program in Oklahoma City. Alex is a player that began his professional career with the Thunder/Blue and the opportunity to add him was something we felt would truly enhance our team and culture. We could not be more excited to see Alex in Thunder blue (again).”

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Thunder see Caruso as an integral part of their franchise in the long term. Wojnarowski added that Caruso can sign a four-year $80 million extension starting January 20.

After initially thinking that Thunder hosed the Bulls in the deal, it appears that both sides came out with solid players for their needs.

Oklahoma City Thunder Grade: A

I really like what Caruso brings to the Thunder. He is a combo guard who will get after the ball on the defensive end and provides reliable 3-point shooting. He is a career 38% 3-point shooter.

OKC went 57-25 last year, earning the top seed in the Western Conference. It was the Thunder’s best season in a decade. However, the Thunder were upended in the conference playoffs semifinals.

OKC had the third-best offensive rating and was fourth defensively. The Thunder also had a top-three starting unit and one of the best backcourt units in the game. However, the Thunder did struggle a little guarding the 3-point line.

Expect Caruso to replace Giddey as Shai Alexander-Gigeous’ running mate. Cason Wallace, Isaiah Joe, and Aaron Wiggins should be in the mix for second-unit duty. It is conceivable all three will be in the Thunders top 10, depending on what else they do this offseason. If there is an odd man out, it is most likely Wiggins.

What’s Next For The Thunder

OKC has 12 players under contract for next year, with salaries totaling $104.3 million. Three of those 12 players have team options, so it would be a huge surprise if the Thunder didn’t exercise all three. Also, if exercised, all three players’ contracts would not be guaranteed until January 10.

Likewise, Jaylin Williams 2024-25 contract is nonguaranteed.

OKC owns the 12th pick in this year’s draft. It will be interesting to see what the Thunder do with picks, though they could possibly get a cheap veteran or package a few of their recent picks for an asset.

Gordon Hayward, who has a $47.5 million cap hold, likely won’t return. The Thunder reportedly want another big. While the Thunder have been linked to Isaiah Hartenstein, they could settle for a less expensive option.

Wendell Carter, Patrick Williams, Nicolas Batum, Kyle Anderson, Jalen Smith, Andre Drummond, and Goga Bitadze have been mentioned as possible options.

In addition to Caruso, SGA, Wiggins, and Joe are eligible for an extension. So, the Thunder may need to save some space for those transactions. The Thunder are $73.1 million under the first tax apron.

More importantly, Jalen Williams and Chet Holmgren are eligible for extensions starting next summer.

Chicago Bulls Grade: B

Chicago wanted another playmaker while Lonzo Ball remains sidelined. Giddey is an elite playmaker who is versatile offensively and an excellent finisher around the rim. Giddey also played much better in the second half of this past season after the Thunder acquired Hayword.

The Bulls also get younger and save a little money with the deal this year.

The Bulls’ problem is that Giddey is a very similar player to DeMar DeRozan. DeRozan is an unrestricted free agent, and there was thought he may return to Chicago, but he will have to wait to see how this trade affects that thinking. DeRozan will be 35 before the upcoming season starts.

Chicago has a lot to figure out. The Bulls, who have dealt with many injuries over the last three years, are 125-121. Their win total has decreased in the past two seasons, and the Bulls have made just one playoff appearance during this stretch.

Chicago has 12 players under contract with salaries totaling $128.4 million. Torrey Craig has a $2.8 million player option, and the Bulls own the No. 11 pick.

Patrick Williams, who has a $12.9 million qualifying option, is also an important free agent for the Bulls. The Bulls are reportedly open to trading Williams and are also shopping Zach LaVine and possibly Ball.

There appear to be a lot of things in flux for the Bulls, so it will be interesting to see what happens this summer. Giddey is extension-eligible, and the Bulls have until the start of the regular season to work out a rookie-scale extension with him. Otherwise, he will be on track to become a restricted free agent next summer.




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