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Bulls remain active after finalizing Josh Giddey trade

Guard's potential starting point guard role increases speculation of more moves

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Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

Thursday's feeling of "what's next?" for the Chicago Bulls only intensified Friday morning when the Bulls and Oklahoma City Thunder separately made the Alex Caruso-for-Josh Giddey trade official with news releases.

While Bulls executive vice president Artūras Karnišovas opted for his preferred mode of silence with no quotes added to his team's release, Thunder executive vice president and general manager Sam Presti provided strong and specific detail into Giddey's mindset.

"When we drafted Josh in 2021, he was an essential aspect of our vision for the next iteration of the Thunder," Presti said in his statement. "Since then, our team has evolved rapidly and dynamically in ways we could never have anticipated. Therefore, as we began our internal discussions this off-season, 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.

"As 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. Josh has All-Star potential, but accessing that in the current construct of the Thunder would be not be optimal for the collective. Based on these discussions, we decided to move forward and prioritize what was best for the organization."

Karnišovas is scheduled to speak following the first round of the NBA Draft on Wednesday. He'll then be asked about the obvious conclusion from Presti's remarks: Is Giddey the starting point guard? And what does that mean for Lonzo Ball's comeback attempt?

Heck, by that time, Karnišovas might even provide more answers in the way of action. That's how "all over the place" he is, as detailed in this piece Thursday posted hours before the Caruso trade.

This certainly doesn't feel like an offseason where Karnišovas adds the No. 11 pick in next week's draft and calls it a wrap. The Bulls are trying to trade Zach LaVine. And they remain confident in their ability to re-sign restricted free agent Patrick Williams.

But Giddey's acquisition certainly calls into question the futures of Ball and DeMar DeRozan. Karnišovas himself said in mid-April that "everything is on the table." Using the waive-and-stretch provision for Ball falls under that umbrella. So does keeping him in his arduous comeback attempt and playing him off the bench. Or trying to wrangle an asset from a team with second apron issues in the new collective bargaining agreement at next February's deadline.

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.

All it takes is one phone call and set of negotiations to change that. 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.

Does this Giddey trade change the landscape for DeRozan and the Bulls?

If the Bulls fail to find a taker for LaVine, remember how he was viewed before last season's difficulties. Not only was he a two-time All-Star, an Olympic gold medalist and one of the league's most efficient scorers, he was also viewed as the bridge piece between the older veterans of DeRozan, Vucevic and Caruso and the young, developing core of Williams, Coby White and Ayo Dosunmu.

LaVine would have to get over some lingering feelings, but he doesn't turn 30 until next March. And he's always been professional. He would actually fit on a timeline with Giddey, Williams, White, Dosunmu and other younger players if the Bulls go full pivot.

This is all speculative. What's certain is Presti believes Giddey has All-Star potential, and the Bulls are excited about his addition.

Just as Presti is ecstatic to acquire Caruso, who the Bulls did honor via their social media accounts.

"Alex Caruso is a player we have always highly valued and followed," Presti's statement continued. "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)."

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