MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Jameer Nelson has played nine pro seasons, but in all that time, he’s never experienced a day like Thursday.
J.J. Redick, Gustavo Ayón, Josh McRoberts and Ish Smith learned they’d been traded by the Orlando Magic on the team bus as it sat on the Dallas Love Field tarmac just minutes before the NBA trade deadline expired.
While Redick, Ayón, McRoberts and Smith were on phone calls to learn what was going on, the other eight players boarded a chartered jet that would take the remaining players to Tennessee.
“I’ve never been involved in anything like it,” said Nelson, who had described how the scene had played out. “There was some suspense going on, and it’s one of those situations that you’ve never been in. So you don’t know what’s going on. ”
It was a rough thing to watch.
“That was surprising, because we thought everyone was safe,” guard E’Twaun Moore said. “We thought we all were coming here to Memphis. It was just shocking. That was about it. Everyone was just caught off-guard.”
Redick, Ayón, McRoberts and Smith eventually finished their phone calls and got the chance to say goodbye to their former teammates.
Nelson has seen plenty of teammates go over the years.
This experience felt more raw than the others because it played out almost in front of everyone’s eyes.
General Manager Rob Hennigan has said the deal that sent Redick, Ayón and Smith to the Milwaukee Bucks for Tobias Harris, Doron Lamb and Beno Udrih was completed just minutes before the 3 p.m. Eastern deadline. McRoberts was sent to the Charlotte Bobcats for Hakim Warrick and cash just before the deadline, too.
Nelson and Redick had been teammates for seven seasons — all of Redick’s pro career.
“I know there’s a business side of things that goes on in organizations and everything,” Nelson said. “It was just tough. It was tough to even hear about all the rumors and things like that, not necessarily for me but for J.J. The two of us have become friends, obviously, over the last ‘x’ amount of years and gained each other’s respect as men off the court.
“I’ve seen a lot of guys come and go, obviously, in my nine years here. I felt like he was going to be here with me until the end. Like I said, things happen for a reason. I wish him the best of luck. I do, the team does and he does — we just have to move on from it.”
Coach Jacque Vaughn was never traded during his 12-year NBA playing career.
He, too, has seen teammates — and, now, players he’s coached — dealt.
“It’s a tough part of the business,” Vaughn said. “It’s a reality that’s a part of the business. Whether it was one player or four players, they were a part of your family, and you form relationships. But, at the same time, this is a great job to have, and you know the requirements when you sign up for it.”
Josh Robbins covers the Orlando Magic and the NBA for the Orlando Sentinel. You can reach him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and connect with him on Facebook at facebook.com/JoshuaBRobbins. Follow him on Twitter at @JoshuaBRobbins.