Josh Giddey

Artūras Karnišovas defends Alex Caruso trade, contends return for both sides was ‘fair'

The trade was met with skepticism from Bulls fans, but Karnišovas is confident in Giddey

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Whether or not the Bulls' acquisitions of Josh Giddey, 21, and Matas Buzelis, 19, signal a youth retooling for the Bulls roster is unknown.

Artūras Karnišovas didn't divulge that far into the Bulls' big-picture plans on Wednesday night saying, "It’s hard to predict what we might look like in a week or two." But in a vacuum, Karnišovas is happy with the trade he and the Bulls made to acquire Giddey for the price of Alex Caruso.

"He's still 21. His production was really good over the last three years. He has room for growth," Karnišovas said. "I think coming here to Chicago, he's going to be able to demonstrate more playmaking and he'll make everyone else better."

MORE: DeMar DeRozan's future will help finalize Artūras Karnišovas' direction

The deal was met with plenty of skepticism from Bulls fans. Caruso is a two-time All-Defensive player with an elite knack for disrupting offensive play for his opponents. What's more fascinating is his uncanny intellect for the game and his ability to make split-second decisions in risky situations.

NBA fans also just watched Giddey fall into a diminishing role with the Thunder. Against the Mavericks in the Thunder's losing playoff series, Giddey shot 18% from 3-point range off 16 attempts. However, his 43% shooting from the field helped (somewhat) cover the blow of his long-distance shooting.

Luckily, the Bulls have one of the most recognized shooting coaches the league has to offer in Peter Patton. And with the general success NBA coaching has to offer, the Bulls are confident they can improve Giddey's shooting.

"Probably one of the areas he's going to get better, actually, most of the players that come to our league become better shooters," Karnišovas said. "I think once he becomes a better shooter he is going to be a threat and then he's going to be able to play-make better."

Still, it's hard to imagine the Bulls didn't, at one point, see better offers for Caruso. He's widely thought of as a valuable asset to contending teams desperate for perimeter defense.

Not to mention, he propelled his offensive production last season, averaging 10.1 points per game on 46% shooting from the floor and 40% shooting from beyond the arc. Caruso's rise as a two-way player is undeniable from last season.

Remember, the Thunder have a bevy of future draft capital, including a whopping five first-round picks in 2025 (four of them with protections).

So, why didn't the Bulls return any picks in exchange for Caruso?

"I think that's a trade we preferred (players) over picks because it's hard to acquire players this young, this productive early in their careers, especially when he already has like 11 triple-doubles in his career. We were just excited and we thought that was the price to pay for Josh," Karnišovas said.

And a price the Bulls will continue to pay, as Giddey is eligible for an extension off his rookie contract. This upcoming season, he'll play through the final year of his rookie contract which is slated to earn him $8.3 million.

To that end, Karnišovas noted, "When you make deals I think you always hope for long-term." But the Bulls have a lot on their plate with NBA free agency opening up on Friday.

But regarding the decision to move Caruso for Giddey straight up, Karnišovas believes it was an even exchange.

"I feel that this deal was fair. Both sides got what they wanted," Karnišovas said. "We went with Josh, who's still 21 years old and has been very productive and we're looking to the future. That was the rationale behind it. I think it was a good deal for both partners."

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