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Alex Caruso started his professional career as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, just not at the NBA level. After going undrafted in 2016, he signed with the Oklahoma City Blue of the G-League. Since then, he's reached high acclaim with the Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls, but apparently, his first team never forgot about him.

On Thursday, the Thunder landed Caruso in a deal with the Bulls in exchange for a young player who entered the league with far more fanfare. Josh Giddey, the No. 6 overall picks in the 2021 NBA Draft, will now move to Chicago and get a second chance in what will hopefully be more of an on-ball role. Giddey struggled in the playoffs for the Thunder because of his weakness as a 3-point shooter, but the rebuilding Bulls may have more on-ball opportunities available to him.

The deal marks the unofficial beginning of trade season. Caruso for Giddey is the closest thing we've gotten to a blockbuster so far in June, and here's how both teams graded out in the deal.

Oklahoma City Thunder: A+

Alex Caruso was, without hyperbole, one of the most sought-after role players in the NBA for at least the past two years. He has defended both Stephen Curry and Giannis Antetokounmpo at an extremely high level. He's a brilliant connective passer and steadily improving 3-point shooter that made nearly 41% of his attempts last season. Oh, and he's not even earning eight figures this season. He fits onto any roster and any balance sheet. So, naturally, he lands with the team that probably needs him the least. 

Oklahoma City's second- and third-best players are still on rookie deals. They ranked fourth in defense and led the NBA in 3-point percentage. Caruso is an absolute luxury to them. But oh my god, what an incredible luxury he is going to be. 

The Celtics just won a championship in large part by acquiring an endless array of switchable perimeter stoppers. The Thunder now have Caruso, Lu Dort, Cason Wallace and Jalen Williams... with Chet Holmgren, who ranked third in the NBA in contested shots per game last season, protecting the basket. You could now credibly argue that Oklahoma City's defense is primed to be better than Boston's.

And it didn't even cost the Thunder cap space. Caruso will make roughly $1.5 million more than Giddey next season. Both are on expiring deals, so it's not as though the Thunder traded long-term financial security for him. Oklahoma City can still pretty easily create more than $30 million in cap space if it wants to. That's more than enough to, say, address their rebounding woes by signing Isaiah Hartenstein while also potentially re-signing Isaiah Joe to a new long-term deal. Whatever other ambitions the Thunder have this offseason they can still just as easily address.

They have effectively traded a player they could no longer use for a player that practically the entire league was desperate to acquire. Giddey remains a promising long-term prospect. He's a uniquely talented passer and ball-handler for his size, especially in transition, but he was benched late in the second round against Dallas because the Mavericks did not guard him. He cannot play off of the ball as a 31% career 3-point shooter, and he was never going to be a permanent point guard on Shai Gilgeous-Alexander's team. The Thunder had to trade Giddey. Their general manager is just so good at this that he turned his problem into the kind of player most teams struggle to acquire even with their best assets.

And that's the cherry on top here. The Thunder may not need Caruso, but you know what getting him accomplishes? It keeps him away from everybody else. The Thunder just helped the Mavericks get Daniel Gafford at the trade deadline only to watch Gafford help Dallas knock them out of the playoffs. The Thunder weren't going to facilitate someone else's acquisition of Caruso, but imagine if he had landed on another top Western Conference team? Suddenly one of the best Gilgeous-Alexander defenders in the league would be playing against them. Now he can't. They haven't just added one of the NBA's best role players. They've ensured that none of their rivals could get him instead. This is Executive of the Year-level stuff from Sam Presti. 

Chicago Bulls: C-

This is a generous C- for Chicago. It's a nod to Giddey's obvious talent. He's one of the 10 best passers in basketball already. He can score inside of the arc and rebounds well for his position. Triple-doubles aren't exactly in vogue at the moment, but Giddey is one of only nine players to post at least 10 of them in the past three seasons. It's not as though the Bulls are trading for a bust. They're just trading for a very specific sort of player, one that they aren't necessarily equipped to maximize right now.

Could that change? Sure. If the Bulls can manage to unload Zach LaVine's albatross contract onto someone else and let DeMar DeRozan walk in free agency, that would put Giddey in a position to succeed. He needs to control the offense to succeed. Coby White takes plenty of on-ball reps, but has comfortably existed within ball-handling timeshares throughout his Bulls tenure. That duo can work. They just can't watch DeRozan and LaVine dribble out the shot-clock.

Even if both of them are gone, it's not as though this is some well-spaced offense that's ready to play at Giddey's speed. The Bulls just ranked 28th in pace and 26th in 3-point attempts. Only two players currently on their roster made even 100 3-pointers last season: White and Ayo Dosunmu. Chicago still needs to upgrade significantly when it comes to spacing if it wants to make the most of Giddey.

Caruso ultimately wasn't long for Chicago regardless of Oklahoma City's offer. It never made sense for a Play-In team to keep a 30-year-old ace role player who was eligible for an extension. But the offers the Bulls got for Caruso reportedly reflected his immense value around the league. Multiple first-round picks as well as a top-10 pick, according to CHGO's Will Gottlieb

This raises an important question about Chicago's process here: why make this trade now? Why not at least try to extract one of Oklahoma City's many, many spare first-round picks? What reason did the Bulls have to believe that this offer wouldn't have been on the table on draft night? While there would certainly have been interest in Giddey around the league, his shooting woes would have made him a questionable fit for most of the league's 30 teams. His market wasn't going to be robust. The general estimate in most reporting had been that he was worth a late-first round pick. Perhaps a bit more in the right situation. The Bulls blew that figure out of the water.

There are two silver linings here. The first is that Giddey has technically improved as a shooter in all three of his NBA seasons. He got to around 34% on 3s last year, though the volume was low enough that it's hard to know if that means genuine growth or just variance within a small sample. The other, more pertinent benefit here is that it makes the Bulls substantially worse in the short term. Chicago owes its top-10 protected first-round pick in the loaded 2025 NBA Draft to the Spurs thanks to the DeMar DeRozan trade. It is now likely that the Bulls keep that pick, and perhaps set up a tank for one of next year's elite prospects. As tantalizing as Giddey's skill set might be, he has a long way to go before he can lead a team to real winning.