As Wizards still benefit from his leadership, Temple hopes to mold Kings

As Wizards still benefit from his leadership, Temple hopes to mold Kings

SACRAMENTO -- The NBA world is much smaller than one would think. Teams roll into a new city prepping for a game, but also looking forward to seeing old faces. For many of the Washington Wizards, a trip to Sacramento isn’t just another road game, it’s a chance to catch up with veteran wing Garrett Temple. 

Temple left the Wizards over the summer, signing a three-year, $24 million deal in Sacramento. The journeyman out of LSU more than doubled his career earnings in his first season with Sacramento, and for the first time in his seven seasons in the league, he has long-term stability. But that doesn’t mean that leaving was easy.  

“This organization gave me a chance to get back in the league,” Temple said of the Wizards. “Because of that, I’ve been able to prolong my career. I have nothing but respect for them, nothing but positive things to say about them.”

Known for his locker room presence and tireless work ethic, Temple left Washington after four seasons. For many of the Wizards players, he was a mentor and a big brother. 

“I was mad that we didn’t get to sign him back,” Wizards guard Bradley Beal told CSN California. “I’m still a little salty about it sometimes. That’s a great friend, that’s somebody you always want in your locker room. You always want a guy like that who bonds well with everybody, who’s a leader, who is vocal, leads by example, works hard and is a true professional both on and off the floor.” 

Beal came to Washington as the third overall selection in the 2012 NBA Draft. He’s never known the hardship of working his way into the league like Temple, but the two bonded over plenty of things, including their faith. 

“He made my life easy,” Beal said. “He helped me out a lot. That’s my brother to this day.”

Beal wasn’t the only young player to come through DC while Temple was on the roster. Another top three selection, small forward Otto Porter joined the Wizards via the 2013 NBA Draft. Like Beal, Temple instantly filled the role of mentor. 

“Great guy overall, not just a great locker room guy,” Otto Porter said. “He was with me for three years and I learned from him how to be a professional, how to show up for work. Just his dedication to the game. His story is unbelievable - a guy getting cut and sticking with it. Just an unbelievable guy.”

Temple found himself bouncing in and out of the league as a young player, signing five different 10-day contracts and even playing in Italy before sticking in Washington. It was a journey and he kept an open mind to the experience every step of the way.

“I was blessed to be able to be on a lot of different teams, a lot of different organizations - some good, some not and I was able to pull from the ones that were good and I try to bring that knowledge to every team I go to,” Temple said. 

His perseverance is something that stands out when addressing young players. Temple fought for his place in the NBA world and you can’t do that without having a passion for the sport. 

“He loves the game,” Porter added. “He’s the type of guy that takes care of you and shows you the ropes. They’re lucky to have him in the locker room and in the organization. He’s a great person overall.”

Sacramento brought Temple in for his versatility on the floor, but also for his leadership behind the scenes. Voted the Teammate of the Year last season with the Wizards, the 30-year-old Temple is part of a veteran core taxed with bringing along the Kings' young players, which includes four first-round selections from the 2016 NBA Draft. 

Temple has seen young players come into the league as high picks and he’s been there as they take time develop. He couldn’t be more proud of the men and players that both Beal and Porter have become and he hopes to bring that same mentorship to Sacramento. 

“I really want to leave my mark on this organization as being a guy that can help mold people into being the right type of pro,” Temple said. “Hopefully I’ve started doing that.”

Temple credits his parents for giving him the work ethic and guidance along the way. He also will tell you that his faith has helped steer his path, but there was one stop in his NBA journey that set the standard for how to he approaches the game.

Following a very brief stop with the Kings during the 2009-10 season, Temple signed a 10-day contract with the Spurs and then inked a deal to play out the final month of the season in San Antonio. He was with the team coming into the 2010-11 season, but played just three games before being waived. 

In total, Temple played just 16 games for the Spurs over two seasons, but his experience made a tremendous impression.

“You see Tim Duncan getting in his routine everyday before shootaround, before practice, no matter what,” Temple said of his time in San Antonio. “You see Tony (Parker) and Manu (Ginobili) getting their work in. You see the way Pop (Gregg Popovich) coaches and keeps people accountable. From the top down - from the owner to the towel person, everybody is held accountable, everybody is doing their job.”

Sacramento will rely heavily on Temple and other veterans on the team to help usher in a new crop of young players. Between Willie Cauley-Stein and the four 2016 first round selections on the roster, the Kings have plenty of youth. It will get even crazier this summer when the team will potentially add two more first-round selections, an early second-round selection and possibly add Serbian wing Bogdan Bogdanovic to the roster. 

The Kings have made plenty of mistakes in free agency over the years, but Temple isn’t one of them. His versatility on the court is welcomed, but his leadership off the floor is a necessity as the franchise begins to rebuild from the ground up.

 

Calipari sees Labissiere's progress during rookie season: 'I give Sac credit'

Calipari sees Labissiere's progress during rookie season: 'I give Sac credit'

Nothing has come easy for Skal Labissiere. He survived the earthquakes in Haiti. He moved to the United States speaking only only French and Haitian Creole as a young teenager. And his lone season at Kentucky he went from a top five prospect to a player that nearly fell out of the first round.

The knock on Labissiere coming out of Kentucky was that he didn’t like contact. Maybe it went farther than that, but there was no question that when he left for the NBA, he didn’t exactly walk away on the best of terms with head coach John Calipari.

When the Kings took on the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center in the final week of the regular season, Calipari sat in the stands watching a small group of his former players. During the telecast, NBC Sports California’s Kayte Christensen caught up with the legendary coach and he couldn’t stop gushing about his Wildcats alums, specifically the play of Labissiere.

“I look at Skal and the progress - I give Sac credit,” Calipari told Christensen. “These guys are working with him. He’s playing more confident. They’re putting him in positions he can have success. I didn’t do as good a job as they did.”

Labissiere went off for 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting against Los Angeles. He added three rebounds and two blocks, but the Kings stumbled down the stretch, allowing the Lakers to come away with the 98-94 victory.

In his freshman season at Kentucky, Labissiere scored more than 19 points just once, a 26 point outburst in his second game of the year against NJIT (New Jersey Institute of Technology). His highwater mark in his rookie season for the Kings was a 32-point, 11-rebound performance against the Phoenix Suns on March 15.

“He’s getting stronger, he’s growing, you can see him maturing physically, which was a big part of it,” Calipari said. “He had a good season with us, but, I used him wrong. Now I see him now, it’s amazing he’ll speak for me after I’m watching him play like this.”

The 21-year-old power forward has a smile that lights up a room. He even uses it as a defense mechanism when things get uncomfortable. Speaking about his time in Kentucky seems uncomfortable for the 6-foot-11 forward.

“Coach Cal, he does a really good job of getting guys ready for the next level,” Labissiere told NBC Sports California. “I appreciate him.”

Labissiere is looking ahead, not backwards. He is a an incredible talent and he is thankful for the job that Dave Joerger and his staff have done with him during his first season in the NBA.

“Coach Joerger, every since I was drafted here, he’s always believed in me,” Labissiere said. “He’s always putting me in the right positions, making me work on different things that normally I didn’t do in college. He’s making me do different things and believing in me. I love playing for him.”

Kentucky has produced some of the best big men in the game, including DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns. It’s a hotbed for talent, but specifically for centers and power forwards that take their game to the next level in the pros.

Labissiere would love to be included in that list, but he isn’t trying to be someone he’s not. His focus is on improving and helping his team win games.

“I don’t know, I’m just working for myself, doing what I’m supposed to do,” Labissiere said. “If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I’m just going to keep doing my thing.”

The Kings have big plans for Labissiere and the rest of their young core this summer. Labissiere will likely join the team’s three other 2016 first round picks in Las Vegas for Summer League in July. Another two or three rookies from the 2017 NBA Draft will likely join them as Sacramento attempts to build some early chemistry amongst.

Following Summer League, Labissiere is scheduled to travel to Haiti where he will hold a basketball camp in his home country. It’s the first time he’s been back to Haiti since moving to the US following the earthquake in 2010.

Labissiere wasn’t the only Kentucky product on display for Sacramento against the Lakers. Willie Cauley-Stein spent three seasons under Calipari before going sixth overall in the 2015 NBA Draft.

Cauley-Stein put up solid numbers in front of his former coach, finishing the game against the Lakers with 14 points, seven rebounds and three blocks in just 23 minutes of action.

“Willie is doing what he does,” Calipari said. “He’s flying up and down that floor, he’s blocking shots. He seems to have some freedoms to do some of the stuff he does well.”

Cauley-Stein is a completely different player two season removed from his time at Kentucky. He finished strong down the stretch for Sacramento, showing a newfound confidence in his scoring ability.

“It’s a great feeling, I don’t think he’s watched me play like that since I left,” Cauley-Stein said. “It was cool to get a chance to see him and show him things I’ve worked on and I’ve gotten better. It was really satisfying, [him] telling me I got better, so I know I’m [going] in the right direction.”

It’s clear that Labissiere and Cauley-Stein had a very different experience at Kentucky. The end result might work out just fine for the Sacramento Kings. The duo played alongside one another for plenty of games down the stretch as the team’s starting frontcourt. It’s a look Kings fans might get used to seeing going forward.

 

Source: Kings hire Perry as Executive VP of Basketball Operations

Source: Kings hire Perry as Executive VP of Basketball Operations

SACRAMENTO -- The changes keep coming in Sacramento. NBC Sports California has confirmed that the Kings have hired former Orlando Magic executive, Scott Perry, to fill the role of Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations.

Perry will report directly to Vlade Divac, who will retain final say in player personnel decisions.

Perry spent the last five seasons in Orlando as Vice President of Basketball Operations and Assistant General Manager. He was let go from the Magic last week following the dismissal of General Manager Rob Hennigan.

Perry, 53, began his career as an executive with the Detroit Pistons where he held the position of Director of Player Personnel from 2000-2007. He briefly left the Pistons, joining the Seattle Supersonics organization as an Assistant General Manager of the team for the 2007-08 season, before spending another four years as Detroit’s Vice President of Basketball Operations from 2008-2012.

Highly regarded around the league, Perry adds another experienced basketball mind to the Kings front office.

During his postseason media availability last week, Vlade Divac spoke openly about his willingness to accept additional help.

“We’re open always to improve - the team, the front office, everything is open for improvement,” Divac said. “I’m very happy and confident in what we have right now, but like I said, we should be open if something can you better.”

With the addition of Luke Bornn on Wednesday to head up the team’s analytics department, and Perry on Friday, the Kings appear to be building a stronger infrastructure as they move into a full youth movement.

Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical was first with the information.