Josh Giddey embraces fresh start with Bulls after trade from Thunder

CHICAGO (AP) — Josh Giddey is looking forward to a fresh start in Chicago.

The 6-foot-8 guard from Australia confirmed Tuesday he did not want to come off the bench for Oklahoma City and insisted he appreciated Thunder general manager Sam Presti's honesty leading up to the trade to the Bulls last week for Alex Caruso.

“I’m 21 years old, it wasn’t something that I was overly eager to do,” Giddey said during a videoconference. “He completely understood. And just throughout the whole process, we were open and honest with each other. And I said to him, ’Look, coming off the bench at this point in my career, it’s not something I’m trying to do and take a reserve role. He got it. And we worked together through the whole process, and he he got me to a great spot.”

Giddey is coming off a challenging season in which his numbers dropped and he lost his starting job in the playoffs. He goes from a team that went 57-25 to earn the top seed in the Western Conference and reached the conference semifinals with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Chet Holmgren leading the way to one that missed the playoffs for the second straight year.

Giddey said he hasn't discussed his specific role with the Bulls, though it's hard to envision him coming off the bench in Chicago if he didn't want to do it in Oklahoma City.

Presti said in a statement last week that the Thunder saw him in a reserve role next season in order "to maximize his many talents and deploy our team more efficiently over 48 minutes." He said Giddey had a tough time with that idea and asked to be traded.

“The one thing about him that I really respect is his transparency,” Giddey said. “And he’s very open and honest with players and especially with me throughout this whole process.”

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 was also often booed on the road 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.

“I completely understand the question and I know you’ve got to ask as part of your job, but I’m not going to comment on anything regarding that situation,” Giddey said.

The trade for Giddey was the first move in what could be a busy offseason for Chicago, which owns the No. 11 pick in the draft on Wednesday. Executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas vowed to make changes after the team he constructed finished 39-43.

Six-time All-Star DeMar DeRozan is a free agent. Zach LaVine might be dealt after playing in just 25 games before having season-ending foot surgery, though the five-year, $215.16 million extension he signed following the 2021-22 season could make him tough to move.

It's not quite clear how the guard rotation will play out with Giddey added to a mix that includes Coby White coming off a breakout season and Ayo Dosunmu in a key role. Lonzo Ball could also figure into it, though he's been sidelined since January 2022 because of a left knee injury. He has said he expects to be ready for the season opener.

Giddey said he didn't discuss with the front office if the Bulls were retooling or undergoing a major overhaul.

“In terms of what direction the franchise is going, I haven’t asked any questions,” he said. “I’ve just kind of bought into whatever happens here, happens. And, I’ll probably play my part in helping our team be as good as we can be right from the jump.”



Andrew Seligman, The Associated Press