Yes, that's correct. A JIRA Core user is not a Service Desk Agent, so they can't be assigned SD requests. It's the Agents who deal with issues in a Service Desk project.
You can involve non-agents as participants though, and if it leads to tasks for developers/Core users, use the "create linked issue" option to create something in their projects for them to deal with.
There is one big hole in Service Desk permissions for me though - when I get asked to help out on an SD request, I might spend half an hour on it. It's still the Agent dealing with it, so I don't want to be assigned to it, but I do want to log time...
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