“His locker’s right here. That was my dog,” he said. “The way he thought about the game, the effort he puts into the game, it’s crazy. A lot of early mornings, a lot of late nights with him.”
Jackson was talking about David Roddy, the second-year forward who had been his teammate up until a few hours earlier. Roddy was traded to the Phoenix Suns as part of a three-team trade that brought forwards Yuta Watanabe and Chimezie Metu to the Grizzlies.
Roddy was the third player traded from the Grizzlies in the last week after Steven Adams was dealt to Houston and Xavier Tillman Sr. was traded to Boston. Jackson played with Tillman at Michigan State and for the entirety of his professional career with the Grizzlies.
“I’m obviously upset and gutted and I feel bad,” Jackson said. “It’s just part of the business. I’ve been here a long time. But it doesn’t get easier, for sure.”
On this night, just a few hours after the NBA trade deadline, the story wasn’t the Grizzlies’ 118-110 loss to the Bulls — it was the impact that Adams, Tillman and Roddy had on the team, and the difficulty of navigating an uncertain trade deadline in the NBA.
The Grizzlies entered this season with high expectations but awful injury luck has snuffed any chance at contention. Ja Morant is out for the season with a shoulder injury. Brandon Clarke hasn’t played all season as he recovers from an Achilles injury. Marcus Smart, Desmond Bane and Derrick Rose have all missed significant time with injuries.
That made the Grizzlies sellers at the trade deadline, sending out the three players to get back future draft assets.
It still had a major effect on the day-to-day of the team. Forward Santi Aldama realized it when someone else had to break the huddle before the game — that was usually Tillman’s job.
“Today, somebody else was doing it,” he said. “It’s those little things, in the day-to-day, where I guess we’re going to start missing him.”
The three players traded around the NBA’s trade deadline represented significantly more action than the Grizzlies have had in recent years. And there were plenty of players who saw their names come up in trade rumors, as general manager Zach Kleiman and his staff tried to assess this roster in what’s become a lost season because of all the injuries.
Guard John Konchar was one.
“If it happens, it happens,” he said. “Just was waiting for a call, never got it. So I’m here, I’ll play hard.”
And there could be more moves ahead. The Grizzlies acquired three players — Watanabe, Metu and Lamar Stevens — in the last two days and also have two more players — Tosan Evbuomwan and Trey Jemison — on 10-day contracts that will expire on Friday.
It could mean more change for a locker room that had plenty to deal with on Thursday.
“I saw (Roddy) this morning,” Aldama said. “A couple hours later, he left. We’re going to miss them all.”