Monday night, Garrett Temple did not play at all in Charlotte. Tuesday night, he played the entire second half in Orlando and scored a career-high 34 points.
Changing roles and drastic swings in playing time are the norm for the Kings, as veterans take turns sitting out games while the younger players’ minutes increase.
Temple said that makes it “tough” to stay in a playing rhythm. It brings back memories of where his NBA career started.
“I think that’s the biggest thing about being a professional, you’ve got to come out and produce no matter what,” Temple said. “First I think it helps me that I was on 10-day contracts and I was a guy that was called up randomly if somebody got hurt, so I was a guy who always had to be ready no matter what. I think that comes into play now.”
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It all came into play with a career-highlight performance Tuesday. After De’Aaron Fox exited early with abdominal tightness, Temple started the second half at point guard because George Hill was resting and Frank Mason III is injured.
Temple was so good in the 105-99 win over the Magic – scoring 17 consecutive points, shooting 14 of 17 and dishing five assists – that there were jokes in the locker room he was playing his way into a trade, which made Temple laugh.
“The rumors are what they are,” Temple said. “I haven’t seen my name in any. People say we don’t listen to the rumors but guys do. We’re looking at HoopsHype just like everybody else.”
The Kings need to create at least one roster spot to facilitate a potential trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers for Hill, but there have been no indications the Kings plan to part with Temple, who has a player option on his contract for next season for $8 million.
“He’s the glue in our locker room,” Kings coach Dave Joerger said. “He’s the guy that everybody goes to, the ultimate professional. ... He’s a real quality human being. Throughout this journey, it’s not been an easy season playing with a lot of young guys, but he’s been very patient, very guiding. He’s a stud.”
Temple also played uneven minutes last season as the Kings took a similar approach, so he knows to make the most of his chances.
“I’m a little used to playing like that and understanding what’s going to happen,” Temple said. “But you still don’t like it because you still want to play. We’re basketball players and we want to play but I’m a little used to it now because of last year.”
Temple said the days leading up to the Feb. 8 trade deadline are no more unnerving than in any other season.
He began his NBA career without a guaranteed contract, so he’s had bigger concerns. Temple chooses to focus on what he can do for the Kings.
“I’ve been on six or seven different teams, been waived a lot, it is what it is,” Temple said. “If it happens, it happens. If not I’m still putting my 100 percent effort into this team, and I’ll leave all that to my agent. When I get on the court I do whatever I can to help this team win, and when I’m not playing I do whatever I can to be a good leader off the court.”