The Kings have spent several offseasons searching for the quintessential good locker room guy.
Although more would be welcome, Garrett Temple seems to fit the role.
The Kings believe veterans such as Temple, 30, are essential to ending the franchise’s losing culture. Usually, their statistics aren’t flashy. . But Temple is contributing on and off the court.
The 6-foot-6 guard can defend multiple positions and facilitate on offense. But what might be most important is his professionalism. For years, the Kings have been weighed down by selfish players worried about their statistics. Temple’s selflessness has quickly made him popular among his teammates.
“He’s always ready to play and never complains, great teammate,” center DeMarcus Cousins said. “There’s nothing negative I could ever say about him. He’s a guy I love to talk to. He sits next to me in the locker room. He’s a positive guy at all times. Got to love guys like that.”
Temple’s statistics are modest: 5.6 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 19.6 minutes per game. But he has become one of coach Dave Joerger’s more trusted perimeter defenders.
On Nov. 11 against Portland, Joerger turned to Temple to help slow down C.J. McCollum in the third quarter, even though Temple hadn’t played all game.
In Sunday’s win over Toronto, Temple was called upon to help contain DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry.
“I just know going into the game whichever wing is the leading scorer or who can score the ball well, most of the time if they’re in the second unit, having to try to turn their water off,” Temple said. “And also if they’re flowing well, I’m going to be guarding some of the guys in the first unit, like DeMar or Kyle.
“I just know that’s going to be my role on this team, and I’m ready whenever (Joerger) wants to put me in for however long he wants to put me in.”
Many players say coming off the bench cold to guard a player with a hot hand is one of the more challenging assignments, even for a veteran. Temple just rolls with the role.
“It’s tougher than if you’re on him to begin with, but as long as we stick to our principles and force them into tough shots, it’s something we can live with,” Temple said.
After playing for Washington the past four seasons, Temple signed a three-year contract with the Kings in the offseason. The Kings liked his versatility and high basketball IQ, among other things.
The Kings believed Temple would help fill their leadership void and need for more good locker room karma. His ability to keep the team focused also has been praised.
“Garrett’s one of those players in the league you really can’t define,” forward Rudy Gay said. “He can guard (positions) one through three (point guard, shooting guard and small forward). A very smart basketball player, and in that fourth quarter (Sunday), he gave us that push that we needed.”
Back to Reno – The Kings re-assigned rookie center George Papagiannis to the Reno Bighorns of the NBA Development League.
Papagiannis did not play after being recalled by the Kings on Friday. He has averaged 10.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in 29.2 minutes per game with Reno.
Rookies Malachi Richardson and Skal Labissiere are also in Reno. Joerger said last week the tentative plan was to avoid having all three rookies in Reno at once, so Richardson or Labissiere might return to Sacramento for Wednesday’s game against Oklahoma City.