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NBA Trade Grades: Bulls trade Alex Caruso to Thunder

Alex Caruso Josh Giddey
The Chicago Bulls flipped Alex Caruso to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Josh Giddey! Let’s hand out some trade grades! (Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports)

NBA Trade Grades: Bulls trade Alex Caruso to Thunder

The NBA Trade season is finally here! The 2024 NBA offseason is officially alive! The Chicago Bulls have traded Alex Caruso to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Josh Giddey. Let’s hand out some trade grades!

Thunder Receive: Alex Caruso

Woah! The Thunder, who finished atop the Western Conference at 57-25, just acquired not only one of the league’s most impactful role players, but did so without destroying any of their future picks or financial flexibility.

Caruso was on the books for $9.8 million heading into 2024-25, with only $3 million guaranteed (fully guaranteed on June 30), according to Spotrac. He is extension eligible, but the Thunder are still expected to have nearly $35 million in cap space and 13,490,390 15 first-round picks through 2030. For one of the most prized role players in the sport, they couldn’t be in a better situation.

Not to mention, Giddey was a distressed asset–with serious off-court troubles–and took a major step back as a player last season after a somewhat encouraging sophomore campaign. He oftentimes compromised the team’s spacing and didn’t provide great value as a defender. He wasn’t a good shooter, nor a willing shooter. He also wasn’t a great defender and didn’t jell in the offense.

Caruso just had the best 3-point shooting season of his career (40.8 3P%, 4.7 3PA, 61.6 3PAr) on steady volume and is one of the grittiest guards in the league defender.

The Thunder were the league’s No. 4 defense with the highest opponent turnover rate in non-garbage-time possessions last year … and just added a do-it-all, All-Defensive 6-foot-5 guard who’s graded in the 97th percentile or better in steal rate in four of the last five seasons (per Cleaning The Glass).

Caruso can also be an effective screener, cutter and connector on the perimeter. He’s a junkyard dog willing to do anything and everything to help his team win.

Kudos, Sam Presti!

Thunder Grade: A

Bills receive: Josh Giddey

After weeks of reportedly declining multiple trades for Caruso, they accept the one for … Josh Giddey?!? They couldn’t get even one of the Thunder’s boatload of first-rounders? Did they accept the first offer on the table without any further discussion? How long was this phone call? I need answers!

Giddey averaged 12.3 points, 6.4 rebounds and 4.8 assists on 47.5/33.7/80.6 shooting splits last year. He wasn’t a very impactful role player alongside Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jalen Williams, even though he has a very strong blend of size and passing ability.

He was not a good enough threat on-ball offensively to justify his fit. That became apparent as last year went on. It also doesn’t help he’s now going to a team with even worse spacing than the one he was previously on.

The only reason I’m not going lower on this grade is because he’s 21-years-old. He can still grow and mature as a player. His career’s not ending after three years, but it took a stark 180 after 2022-23 due to myriad reasons. Can he swing the pendulum in his favor again? It’s doable.

I just don’t think Chicago got good value in this deal at all. They could’ve pried any one–or multiple–of Oklahoma City’s picks in return. Leaving empty-handed in that regard and also acquiring the Thunder’s worst asset for arguably your best asset is mismanagement at its finest.

Now my two biggest questions are: 1.) What were the other offers that they refused and 2.) What’s their next course of action? Their decisions on DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine, Coby White and Nikola Vucevic could define its franchise for at least the next 3-5 years.

It now becomes all the more important they get as much as possible, should they decide to trade any–or all–of them.

Bulls Grade: C-

***

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