Thunder GM says Josh Giddey didn't want to come off the bench and requested trade

CHICAGO (AP) — The Bulls and Thunder finalized a deal sending Josh Giddey to Chicago and Alex Caruso to Oklahoma City on Friday, with the Thunder granting the 21-year-old Giddey's trade request after he resisted the team's plans to use him off the bench.

Giddey, a 6-foot-8 point guard from Australia, gets a fresh start after a challenging season in which his numbers dropped and he lost his starting job in the playoffs.

In a statement, Thunder general manager Sam Presti said he told Giddey after the season that the team envisioned using him as as a reserve in 2024-25 “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 to for him to envision, and conversations turned to him inquiring about potential opportunities elsewhere,” Presti said. “As always was the case, Josh demonstrated the utmost professionalism throughout the discussions.”

The Thunder went 57-25 to earn the top seed in the Western Conference and lost to Dallas in the conference semifinals.

Giddey was frequently booed on the road this season after an anonymous social media user accused him of having an improper relationship with an underage girl, leading to investigations by police in Newport Beach, California, and the NBA.

Newport Beach police completed their investigation in January and said detectives were “unable to corroborate any criminal activity.” The NBA also later dropped its investigation.

Giddey was the No. 6 overall pick in 2021 and he made the All-Rookie second team. He is a member of Australia’s national team that will play at the Paris Olympics this summer. He is an exceptional passer and his size makes him a solid rebounder.

Giddey averaged 16.6 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists in his second season, but those numbers dropped to 12.3 points, 6.4 rebounds and 4.8 assists in 2023-24.

Giddey’s play improved the second half of this season after the Thunder traded for Gordon Hayward. In April regular-season games, Giddey averaged 16.3 points, 7.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists while shooting 57.2% from the field.

Giddey's playing time was reduced in the playoffs. He opened the second-round series against Dallas as a starter before being moved to a reserve role for the first time in his NBA career.

The 30-year-old Caruso, who plays point guard and shooting guard, was undrafted in 2016 and played for the Thunder's G League affiliate, the Oklahoma City Blue, in 2016-17. He established himself as a defensive presence in four years with the Los Angeles Lakers and then three years with the Bulls.

He has career averages of 6.8 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists. He averaged a career-high 10.1 points this past season. He was on the all-defense first team in 2023 and the second team in 2024.

“Alex Caruso is a player we have always highly valued and followed,” Presti said. “He is the quintessential Thunder player; he is an exceptional competitor and teammate with a multi-dimensional skillset.”

The Thunder also have Cason Wallace, a second-team All-Rookie selection this past season, at point guard.