Kings

Temple clarifies fiery comments and sends another message, too

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USATSI

Temple clarifies fiery comments and sends another message, too

SACRAMENTO -- The Kings knew what they were getting when they signed Garrett Temple in the summer of 2016. They needed versatility and they needed a leader. Temple hasn’t disappointed. 

In his second season in Sacramento, the 31-year-old wing continues to bring his lunch pail to work every day. He starts most nights for Dave Joerger and he is unquestionably the team’s best defensive player. 

Following the Kings’ loss Tuesday evening to the Charlotte Hornets, Temple sounded off to reporters from his locker room stall. 

“We don’t guard a soul, haven’t defended a soul,” a clearly frustrated Garrett Temple said. “If you don’t guard in the NBA, you’re going to lose every game, I don’t care who you play. We haven’t defended whatsoever, at all, point blank.”

It’s a powerful sound bite. If it didn’t come from Temple, it might even be looked at as divisive. But this is why the Kings brought in the journeyman out of LSU.

Following practice on Wednesday, Temple took time to further explain his stance regarding the Kings defensive issues. It’s a complex issue and the fix will take time.

“We should be upset because of the performances defensively we’ve put out the last three or four games,” Temple said. “Especially after we had made some strides to be a better defensive team over the last month and a half. We’ve taken steps back and we have to correct that.”

Temple takes great pride in his defense. He’s often taxed with guarding the toughest cover. Against the Cavs, he went toe-to-toe with LeBron James. Two nights later, he lined up against sharpshooter Devin Booker. When the Kings give up 111, 114 and 133 points over a three-game stretch, there is a problem.

“If you’re not upset about it right now, that means you don’t really care,” Temple added. “We don’t want that.”

According to Temple, the Kings had a long film session on Wednesday, followed by an open conversation between players and coaches. The team has a three-day break in the schedule to try and work out some of these issues, but it’s a tall task.

Defensive breakdowns can be a symptom of many things. Effort and intensity often draw the blame, but when you look at Sacramento’s roster, a lot of the issues stem from a lack of NBA experience and maybe something more. 

Temple points to the team’s communication issues on the floor and to one group in particular.

“The biggest thing is the communication issue and I think a lot of the time, it’s the young guys that aren’t communicating, because they’re young,” Temple said. “Situations that happen over the course of a game and you watch film and guys say, ‘I didn’t know.’ You’re not supposed to know, you just got to the NBA or you’ve just been here for a year and a half.”

“Those are the growing pains you have to go through, but you can’t make the same mistake 2-3-4-5 times,” Temple said. “That’s when it becomes being a professional - understanding what you’re supposed to do now after you made a mistake a couple of times and then fixing it.”

It isn’t just the Kings roster that Temple is pointing to. It’s more of a societal issue. In the current digital age, verbal communication has been replaced in many instances with text, video and pictures. People as a whole aren’t talking to each other like they used to, at least not in the conventional way. 

And when you stack 10 players on a roster under the age of 25, the issues with a lack of communication are exacerbated. 

“I’m a millennial, but it seems like we don’t talk at all anymore,” Temple said. “That translates to the court. We don’t talk at all. Coaches are losing their voices trying to yell out coverages and yell out things that guys on the court are supposed to be saying. That takes a toll. Guys have to learn how to communicate and use their voices more on the court, which in essence will help guys trust each other more on the defensive end.”

It’s an interesting take and it makes sense. Sacramento is trying something extreme with their roster makeover. They went in a new direction with their franchise and growing pains are expected. 

The team may have isolated one of their biggest problems. Now they need to find an answer. Veterans like Garrett Temple might hold the key to fixing the issue. It might be time to put the devices down and start having some real one on one conversations. 

Kawhi Leonard is not the answer for the Kings

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USATSI

Kawhi Leonard is not the answer for the Kings

The murmurs have already started. Teams are lining up for a potential run at one of the game’s best players. We aren’t talking about LeBron James, Kevin Durant or Paul George, who all have early termination clauses in their contracts this summer. That trio will dominate the news July 1 when the NBA’s free agency period begins. 

There is another player who has an ability to change the course of a franchise and the way things are heading, who might become one of the biggest trade targets in recent league history. 

No one really knows the entire story about what is going on with Kawhi Leonard. The Spurs have their side and Leonard’s team likely has a different version. What is known is that the 26-year-old small forward was cleared by San Antonio’s medical staff to resume game action a few months back. 

Leonard returned to the court for a nine-game stretch during December and early January. And then he shut it down again. 

The two-time All-Star and former NBA Defensive Players of the Year has been diagnosed with tendinopathy in his right quadricep. He’s bounced back and forth between San Antonio and New York City all season, having his injury evaluated and re-evaluated by both the Spurs and his own medical team.

Where the Spurs go from here is anyone’s guess. They have the best two-way player in the game and he has made the decision on his own not to play. 

A season ago, San Antonio rattled off a 61-win season before falling to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. They made additions in the summer to make another run, but without Leonard, they didn’t stand a chance.

To make matters worse, the Spurs roster is aging quickly. Manu Ginobili turns 41 in July. Pau Gasol is almost 38 and Tony Parker will be 36 soon and in the last year of his contract. Six players in their rotation are 30 or older and the clock is ticking.

Leonard’s decision wiped out any chance of winning a ring for the Spurs. It also threw away one of the few seasons left for a couple of his teammates.

For the last four decades, San Antonio has been the model NBA franchise. They don’t get into situations like this. And now they have to make one of the most difficult decisions a team has to make. 

To complicate matters, Leonard has two years left on his five-year, $94 million deal he signed in 2015. The final year is a player option worth $21.3 million and it’s very unlikely that Leonard will exercise that option.

Why is this of interest to the Sacramento Kings? It might not be, but that won’t stop fans from turning to the trade machine to find a way to land Leonard in purple and black.

Anytime a player of this ilk comes available, it’s within every team’s best interest to at least make a call. It’s possible the Spurs would turn the Kings down three seconds into the conversation. Then again, they might listen.

While San Antonio is going to want a star in return for Leonard, that isn’t the way these things usually work out. The question then becomes, do the Kings have the assets to acquire Leonard?

It’s very possible that the Spurs can get more than what the Kings would be willing to offer. Sacramento has a group of young players, two or three of which might draw interest. They also have a top seven pick in the upcoming draft.

Due to the Stepien Rule, the Kings can’t trade their draft pick prior to the 2018 NBA Draft. League rules prohibit teams from trading draft picks in back-to-back seasons and Sacramento has already given up their 2019 pick in a salary dump in the summer of 2015. 

The Kings can make a selection for another team and consummate a deal once the new season begins in July, so there is still an opportunity to include the pick in player form. 

San Antonio would likely ask for multiple young players, as well as the Kings’ 2018 selection. Sacramento also has cap space and a few veterans on expiring contracts to make the dollars and cents work. 

Whether the Kings could come up with the pieces to make a deal work is debatable. The real question is, should they try and chase Leonard if he becomes available? 

The simple answer is no. 

No, the Kings shouldn’t offer up a top 10 pick and two or three of their young core to acquire one of the game’s best players. 

Take all of the issues that Leonard has had this season and throw them out the window. At 100 percent health, the risk is still too much for a team like the Kings to take.

It’s about the contract and it’s about the talent that you would have to give up. The Los Angeles Lakers might be able to absorb the risk of trading for Leonard. They would likely have to give up Kyle Kuzma and plenty more to make something happen. But they would also have a fighting chance of retaining Leonard once he opts out of his current deal and becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Kings fans will reach deep on this, bringing up that Chris Webber made the decision to stick around in Sacramento back in 2001, inking a seven-year, $122 million deal. 

Not only were those different times, but the Kings’ franchise was on a roll. Webber was the best player on one of the best teams in the league. He was also surrounded by quality teammates, many of who remain extremely close more than a decade later.

Leonard would come to a franchise that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2006. It is also a franchise that would have to give up plenty of assets to acquire him. He wouldn’t make the Kings an instant success and although the team would have plenty of money in the summer of 2019 to not only pay Leonard, but add a few more pieces, the risk would never be worth the reward.

If the team truly believes that Leonard is an option, they might as well draft a high quality player in 2018, develop the current talent base, make a move or two to improve the roster and then chase the All-Star wing a summer later when they have upwards of $70 million to throw around.

It’s a fun conversation, but one that can only lead to ruin for a team like the Kings. The best chance to turn things around for Sacramento is to stay the current course and continue to develop the players on the roster. 

If the team can begin to build something, landing the right player and then keeping them around will happen for the Kings.

Kings lose coin flip to Bulls, hold No. 7 overall pick heading into NBA Draft Lottery

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AP

Kings lose coin flip to Bulls, hold No. 7 overall pick heading into NBA Draft Lottery

The Sacramento Kings’ win over the Houston Rockets in the season finale has officially cost the team a spot in the NBA’s Draft Lottery. After posting identical 27-55 records, Sacramento and the Chicago Bulls were part of the NBA’s coin flip rule Friday afternoon at the Board of Governors meetings. 

Unfortunately for the Kings, the Bulls picked up a victory in the game of chance and now sit in the sixth spot in the pre-lottery standings. Sacramento holds the seventh position, but both teams have an equal opportunity to move up into the top three positions when the lottery is officially held on May 15. 

Once the top three selections are drawn, the draft goes in order of worst remaining record, taking coin flip results into consideration. If the Kings do not move into the top three and no one slated behind them in the draft move up, they will draft No. 7 overall. 

There is also a small chance that Sacramento doesn’t move up and one or more lottery teams behind them in the standings jump up. In this scenario, the Kings could draft as low as 10, but the statistical probability of them falling that far is astronomical. 

Here are the odds for the potential draft positions for the Kings this season. Both the Kings and Bulls have an 18.3% chance of moving into the top three picks.

No. 1 overall selection: 5.3%
No. 2 overall selection: 6.0%
No. 3 overall selection: 7.0%
No. 7 overall selection: 57.3%
No. 8 overall selection: 22.6%
No. 9 overall selection: 1.8%
No. 10 overall selection: less than 0.0%