Blocking out all the trade deadline noise is hard to do. Here’s how Jazz players are trying to do it
As Mike Conley knows all too well, you never know what’s going to happen
On Feb. 7, 2019, Mike Conley was in his hotel room in Oklahoma City. He just learned that his longtime teammate Marc Gasol had been traded from the Memphis Grizzlies to the Toronto Raptors and Conley was told that he was next. He was certain he’d played his last game in a Grizzlies uniform.
“I thought I was getting traded,” Conley said. “We had a game that day against the Thunder and I’m like, do I fly back to Memphis? What am I doing? I’m already thinking about plans and stuff.”
The team then told Conley that they were going to keep him for the rest of that 2018-19 season. So he got on the team bus and went to the arena and played basketball.
Coincidentally one of the teams that was in trade talks with the Grizzlies was the Utah Jazz, where Conley would eventually end up that offseason and where he’s been since.
Conley doesn’t hold any hard feelings against the Grizzlies because of that day of uncertainty. That’s the business, and Conley uses the story as an example for his teammates who might be hearing their name in trade rumors and as things heat up near the NBA trade deadline.
“That day will come and the deadline will pass and you either will be or won’t be involved in anything,” Conley said. “It’s out of your control so just continue to go to work.”
It’s sound advice from one of the most veteran voices on the team, and even still Conley knows that it’s easier said than done. The uncertainty of it all can be agonizing for NBA player.
“Legitimately I was told that I was getting traded and then I was back the next day. So, you never know,” Conley said. “It’s hard to dodge the madness at this time of year.”
But the uncertainty is the biggest reason players have for just putting their head down and trying to tune out all of the noise. Since there’s no real way to know what’s going to happen and so much being up in the air until the last minute, Jazz players have chosen to focus on what’s right in front of them.
Joe Ingles, no matter where his contract ends up, will be concentrating on his upcoming ACL surgery and his recovery. Whether any active Jazz players are moved or stay in Utah, they will continue working out every day and trying to build good habits that will make them successful in the postseason.
“It comes every year,” Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said. “Like any business there’s a personal component to the business. ... But it’s not something we give a lot of life to.”
The way the Jazz see it, no matter who is on the roster on Feb. 11, once the NBA trade deadline has passed, they have a goal and they need to keep working toward it. That means building on some of the good that they’ve seen in recent days and cleaning up more of the bad.
While the Jazz were missing key rotational pieces in the last week of January and were still losing games, they felt like they’d found something in the way that they were competing in games. Donovan Mitchell defined that as fighting through small moments in a game and giving effort even when players are messing up.
“That day will come and the deadline will pass and you either will be or won’t be involved in anything. It’s out of your control so just continue to go to work.” — Jazz guard Mike Conley
“If you make a mistake, make it at 110%,” Mitchell said. “That’s how you’ve got to go about it, just go out there and do our jobs, everyone, 1 through 15.”
That’s where the Jazz are focused as the league is shaken up by the trade deadline. They expect that kind of effort from the players that are currently on the roster and they’ll expect the same thing from any new players that might come to the Jazz via trade or even after the deadline.
Any player could end up being like Conley back in 2019 and think that they are all but ready to be on a flight headed to a different team, but no matter where they end up they still have to be ready to play and ready to give their all.
So, with their heads down and a map for things to focus on, the Jazz await the results of annual league shakeup.