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.

 

Report: If Joerger not available, Kings likely would have hired Ewing

Report: If Joerger not available, Kings likely would have hired Ewing

On May 7, 2016, the Grizzlies fired Dave Joerger.

Two days later, the Kings hired Joerger.

If he had not become available, Sacramento likely would have tabbed Patrick Ewing as their head coach, according to The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Ewing is currently the associate head coach of the Hornets.

He has been on Charlotte's staff since 2013.

Before that, he was an assistant coach with the Magic for six seasons.

After retiring from the NBA following the 2001-02 season, he was an assistant with Washington for one season before joining the Houston Rockets.

Ewing was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008.

Bullied by Bucks, Kings unable to match playoff intensity

Bullied by Bucks, Kings unable to match playoff intensity

SACRAMENTO -- The NBA learning curve is steep. On Wednesday night in Sacramento, the young Kings faced one of the league’s up and coming players and a team fighting for a playoff spot. The atmosphere was foreign and the Kings didn’t respond well in the 116-98 loss to the Bucks.

Milwaukee came out of the gate and bullied the Kings. They threw a young Sacramento team all over the court on their way to a 69 point half. To add to the insult, some of the Bucks veterans even taunted the Sacramento crowd as they shot a stunning 61.4 percent from the field before the intermission.

“I think we got pushed around a little bit in the first half,” rookie Skal Labissiere said. “But they’re trying to make the playoffs still. They’re trying to make the eighth spot. So we have to be a little bit more physical with them and not let them punk us around.”

What the Kings saw from the Bucks is the mindset of a team fighting for a playoff spot. Wednesday night’s contest is what you see in the tail end of a season when one team has something to play for and the other has gone with a youth movement.

“They’re playing physical, they’re not backing down from nobody,” Buddy Hield said. “They have something they’re playing for. Obviously we don’t right now because our season is out of reach.”

Sacramento’s veterans looked at the game as a learning experience for the younger players. They need exposure to this type of game late in the season. They need to see what the expectations will be in a year or two when the Kings hope to be in a similar situation.

“These guys have to go through it, they have to learn it and then hopefully when we make the playoffs in the coming years, they’ll be able to understand that it jumps to another level,” Garrett Temple said. “The first 50 games is one level, the the next 30 is another and that playoff is different animal.”

Building a winner usually comes in stages in the NBA. By the time you sneak into the playoffs, you have already come close once or twice and the first round matchups are usually against seasoned winning clubs.

That is something the Bucks will learn soon enough. With the win, they are now tied for the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference playoff chase, but nothing is certain. They currently sit a game out of the eight spot and just 2.5 from falling to ninth and missing the playoffs entirely.

If they squeak in, they will play either the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics or Washington Wizards in Round 1.

Every game is magnified when you have something at stake late in a season and the Kings were never able to match the intensity of their opponent.

All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo put on a show. The star forward dominated every player the Kings threw at him on his way to a 32-point, 13-rebounds, six-assist performance.

“People think I’m crazy to say that - if he gets a 3-point shot, he’ll be the best player in the league,” Temple said of Antetokounmpo. “He can penetrate, he has great court vision, can handle the ball, not to mention he’s 6-11 and a wiry strength that you don’t understand unless you’re play against him. He can literally play 1-5 in this NBA and he has a mismatch at every position.”

Labissiere drew the first look on Antetokounmpo and it didn’t take long to see that the rookie was overmatched by his opponent’s versatility. Willie Cauley-Stein had some success early in the second half, using his length and getting physical with the star forward, but the game was already decided.

It’s a process. With a youth movement comes games like the one against Milwaukee. All you can ask for is effort, which Sacramento has shown. Despite the team’s 3-11 record since the All-Star break, there is progress, especially from the core of first and second year players.

“They’re getting better and better,” Tyreke Evans said. “They’re still learning the game, but as they’re playing, they’re working hard. They’re working hard in practice, getting reps up. It’s going to take time, it’s not going to happen overnight. They’re going to have good games, they’re going to have bad games. You’ve got learn from it.”

Sacramento is in the middle of a seven game stretch against teams tuning up for the playoffs. The schedule doesn’t get any easier Friday when the Kings travel to Oracle Arena to face the Golden State Warriors. It’s another chance to learn on the fly.