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Why it would be a surprise to see Garrett Temple anywhere but on the Kings next season

For an idea of how important Garrett Temple is to the Kings, look where his locker is at Golden 1 Center.

Last season, DeMarcus Cousins was to the left of Temple. This year, it's De'Aaron Fox to his right.

"I don't think they do this on accident," Temple said. "... I think they did it on purpose."

Temple is in some ways the conscience of the Kings: a player trusted to help guide both their past franchise cornerstone (Cousins) and one they believe can be the future (Fox).

"When I got in (the NBA) I found my niche and also found I could be a good locker room guy," Temple said. "Being older, obviously that helps. You can talk to guys and show them how to be professional. Culture starts with the organization but players make it go at the end of the day."

Opinion

Temple's value to the Kings cannot be tied to statistics. Undrafted out of LSU, Temple is now in his eighth season, which gives him an appreciation for the game a pampered draft pick might not have. He's Sacramento's best perimeter defender and can be counted on to provide an honest critique while still encouraging.

Temple has a player option for next season worth $8 million, and it would be a surprise to see him playing anywhere but Sacramento.

The Kings believe his presence in the locker room is well worth his salary.

Temple knows management values him, and that was evident when they sought him as a free agent in July 2016 and offered him $24 million over three years to try to fix Sacramento's broken culture.

"Just being honest, with the contract they offered me," Temple said, "it wasn't just about what I could do on the court, it was about what I could bring to the locker room. I hope I've been able to do that for them and I will continue to try to do that."

The jokes about the Kings and their dysfunction have been numerous over the years. It would be premature this early into rebuilding to declare the broken culture fixed. It will take stability on the bench.

Dave Joerger would be the first coach since Paul Westphal (2012) to make it to a third season. (Westphal was fired seven games into that season.)

It will also mean keeping players like Temple around, even when their playing days are done. Temple said he's thought about coaching or a front office role when he's done playing.

Sacramento would welcome Temple when his playing days are done.

But Temple isn't talking about retiring anytime soon.

He likes how general manager Vlade Divac and this staff communicates with players like him and Vince Carter about how to better shape the future of the Kings.

"I've said in the past, you have to learn how to be a professional," Temple said. "Talent is what it is, but when guys come into the league, I don't care how talented they are, you have to learn how to be a pro. And that comes from the organization, top to bottom first and from the veterans that are on the team.

"I had a great dose of that in San Antonio, my rookie year and the beginning of my second year. See what professionals do looking at Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and obviously Pop (Gregg Popovich) and how that organization works from the top down."

Trending up

The Kings have won three of their last five games after a five-game losing streak. That's not the kind of stretch to become overly excited about, but every time this team wins and the young players see their effort pay off, it's a good thing. Learning how to win will benefit Sacramento in the future more than anything.

Trending down

It's hard to develop players when injuries hit. Willie Cauley-Stein has missed four games with a lower back strain. Fox only played five minutes against New Orleans before leaving with a lower back strain and missed Friday's win over Orlando.

Skal Labissiere will miss Sunday's game at Denver with a bruised left hip.

Looking ahead

Sunday at Denver begins a stretch of five games in seven days against teams all in playoff contention. Four of those games are on the road.

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