Once already in his NBA career, Garrett Temple tried to return too quickly from a hamstring injury and aggravated the problem. So this time, the Kings guard is being cautious.
Temple has not played since partially tearing his left hamstring Jan. 31 against Houston. Before Monday’s game against Minnesota at Golden 1 Center, he said the hamstring has greatly improved but he likely is still at least a week from playing.
“I feel like I’m progressing well – I’ve had no setbacks, which is the biggest thing in soft tissue injuries,” Temple said. “I’m going to go about a week after I feel 100 percent. So I feel pretty good right now. If I come back sometime beginning of next week or middle of next week, I think I’d be happy with that.”
7.7 Garrett Temple’s scoring average this season
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When Temple sustained his injury, the Kings estimated he would miss two to three weeks. But Temple said Monday he was only scheduled to be re-evaluated after that time.
“I can do everything (physically) right now,” Temple said. “It’s just a matter of getting my wind up, so when I am tired, can the hamstring still withstand fatigue? But in terms of just me being able to do all movements, I can do everything without pain.”
With Washington two seasons ago, Temple strained his right hamstring in March and aggravated the injury the first time he tried to practice about a month later. He missed the first round of the playoffs and returned in a limited capacity as the Wizards lost in the second round.
Much has changed with the Kings since Temple last was on the floor. With no DeMarcus Cousins, and veterans Matt Barnes and Omri Casspi also gone, the Kings are adjusting their schemes and learning on the fly with new teammates.
Temple, though, said he expects to fill a similar role when he returns. Before his injury, the seventh-year guard was averaging 7.7 points but was a consistent presence for coach Dave Joerger starting or coming off the bench.
“This whole season, I’ve been pretty vocal in terms of leadership,” Temple said. “So I’ll continue to do that, maybe even a little more. But just be a defensive presence on the court, be a guy that can knock down some 3s, and just a guy that offensively knows what he’s doing, (and that) the ball can flow through.”
The Kings were also without guard Arron Afflalo for the third consecutive game Monday because of a sore left hamstring.
I feel like I’m progressing well – I’ve had no setbacks, which is the biggest thing in soft tissue injuries. I’m going to go about a week after I feel 100 percent. So I feel pretty good right now. If I come back sometime beginning of next week or middle of next week, I think I’d be happy with that.
Garrett Temple, Kings guard
Logjam – Entering Monday, the Kings and Timberwolves were among six teams within 3 1/2 games of one another at the bottom of the Western Conference playoff picture. The Kings sat one game behind Denver, which occupied the No. 8 spot. Sacramento plays the Nuggets twice in the next six games.
Before Monday’s game, Joerger was asked if the Kings, despite the front office’s recent moves, still considered themselves in the playoff hunt.
“I’ve not, like, put out there a number of games that we need to win, for various reasons,” Joerger said. “So it’s night-to-night.”
Complicating the Kings’ situation is the fact they must forfeit their first-round draft pick this year to Chicago if it falls outside the top 10. That wouldn’t be an issue if they drop in the standings.
Temple said he believes the Kings’ current roster can make a push for the No. 8 seed. Before the All-Star break – and the Cousins trade – Temple said Joerger gave the team a win total to target.
“We feel confident we can get to that number with the people we have on this team,” Temple said. “So we’re still on that. We’re going to try to get that number. Nobody is packing it in at all.”