Oklahoma City Thunder fans know that general manager Sam Presti always has a plan up his sleeve, but most did not expect Tuesday's bombshell move. While the focus has aptly been on the team's size deficiencies, an impactful two-way guard is incredibly valuable in the modern NBA.

The Thunder acquired a player who can help them advance closer towards their first championship in franchise history, but in order to do so, they are parting with a promising, homegrown talent. OKC is sending Josh Giddey to the Chicago Bulls in exchange for Alex Caruso, producing a plethora of wild reactions from the basketball-watching public.

Giddey's now-former teammates are still processing the news. Chet Holmgren is getting particularly nostalgic in his unofficial farewell to the Australian playmaker.

He quote tweeted a post that Giddey originally made in 2022, which features an image of himself and a recently drafted Holmgren playing in a Summer League game. The Thunder center added heart emojis in the team's colors and a crossed fingers emoji. The downside to having a young roster that contains a similar developmental timetable is that goodbyes can be especially difficult.

Thunder focus on the present and filling a key need

Oklahoma City made remarkable strides this year, and although Josh Giddey faded into the background a bit, he will always be one of the building blocks of a momentous turnaround. The No. 6 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft averaged 13.9 points on 46.4 percent shooting with 7.3 rebounds and 5.7 assists in 210 regular season games for the team.

Despite shooting just 33.7 percent from 3-point range last season (did go up from 2022-23), Giddey still oozes plenty of potential. Though, with Jalen Williams and Chet Holmgren both being budding stars, his offensive prowess is not as valuable as it was initially. Instead, Presti is looking to add a crucial championship ingredient to his impressive cupboard– a 3-and-D guy.

Alex Caruso is coming off the best offensive season of his seven-year NBA career, scoring 10.1 points per game while also knocking down 40.8 percent of his attempts from downtown. He was forced to carry more responsibilities, as the Bulls continued to be decimated by injuries in their backcourt. While DeMar DeRozan and Coby White led the way, the 30-year-old arguably served as the glue of this ailing franchise, holding it together long enough for Chicago to maintain its annual and uninspiring NBA Play-In Tournament status.

Management valued Caruso so much that it reportedly refused to trade him for a top-10 draft selection before finding a trade package to its liking in the form of 21-year-old Josh Giddey.

Caruso remains a high-quality defender who recorded 1.7 steals per contest and is always aggressive on the ball. Even more important than being a reliable perimeter threat and All-Defensive Second-Team selection (First Team in 2023), the 2023-24 NBA Hustle Award winner possesses the ever-important intangibles the Thunder desire.

Alex Caruso, Josh Giddey can each help their new teams

Chicago Bulls guard Alex Caruso (6) defends New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) during the first quarter at United Center.
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Caruso knows what it takes to reach the NBA apex, playing a role in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 2020 championship run. His experience and leadership can possibly enable OKC to leap the other contenders in the Western Conference. Adding a veteran with a ring to a No. 1 seed can produce scintillating results for the hungry franchise, and its equally ravenous fandom.

One cannot overlook the positive effect Josh Giddey can have on the Bulls in the long term, however. He can grow alongside White and be an instrumental component of another rebuild. Chicago is a more arduous project, to be sure, but this guard can potentially be part of the long-awaited solution.

Although Alex Caruso will probably win over his new Thunder teammates with his high motor, defensive intensity and smooth shooting stroke, Giddey’s absence is clearly being felt. Chet Holmgren seems to be deeply appreciative of the time he shared with the crafty passer in Oklahoma City.

Their NBA journeys are headed on different paths, but they can always reminisce about their days as wide-eyed NBA fledglings.