Garrett Temple

Kings host Clippers with major implications for 2019 NBA playoffs

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USATSI

Kings host Clippers with major implications for 2019 NBA playoffs

SACRAMENTO -- When you are in the middle of a playoff chase, every game is important. But Friday evening’s matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers has all sorts of implications for the Sacramento Kings.

Trailing both the Spurs and the Clippers in the standings by two games coming into the night, this is an opportunity to move one step closer to the postseason with just 20 remaining in the season.

Most of the Kings’ players haven’t been in this position before. The race heightens the intensity of everything. While it’s a stressful time, it’s part of the natural progression that teams go through as they mature and develop.

“If you look at the long scope of things, what an opportunity to prepare for a game like this, in almost a playoff mode, can do for our team, will pay off in the years to come,” coach Dave Joerger told NBC Sports California.

For Joerger and his staff, the trick is to not complicate things. They’ve brought their young roster through the normal growth process. They learned to compete, then how to win. They are still working through the challenge of closing out tough veteran teams, but the last thing the staff wants to do is introduce too many concepts before a big game.

“We’re going to try to over prepare, without over burdening their minds,” Joerger said. “Full brains can sometimes equal slow feet. We’re a freedom of play team. We’re a team that wants to get up and down. So how do you simplify it as much as possible and stay true to who we are.”

Los Angeles holds a 3-0 advantage over the Kings in the season series, but they made major changes at the NBA’s trade deadline.

Tobias Harris and Avery Bradley are gone. Both gave Sacramento fits in their previous matchups. In their place, the Clippers have added some new pieces in Landry Shamet, JaMychal Green, Ivaca Zubic and former King, Garrett Temple.

While the faces have changed, the team continues to play the same style. They are 4-4 over their last eight games and are still adjusting to the new pieces on the roster. While most experts had them falling out of the race, they continue to fight.

“We’re going to be who we are, we’re going to play the way we play and we’re going to hope that’s good enough,” coach Doc Rivers said.

The Clippers weren’t expected to be in this position coming into the season, but Rivers and his staff have done a nice job of mixing veterans and young players.

Sacramento has shocked the league with their strong play as well. Vegas had the Kings winning 25.5 games this season, a number they have already surpassed.

The Kings have played well, but lost four of their last five. A win over the Clippers would put them back in the race. A loss would make the road to the postseason a lot more difficult.

View from the Outside

After spending two seasons in Sacramento, Temple was traded to Memphis during the offseason with the hopes of competing for a playoff spot with the Grizzlies. After falling out of the race early, the Grizzlies shipped Temple, along with Green to the Clippers in exchange for Bradley.

Temple is happy for the opportunity to once again compete for the postseason, but he is a fan of what he’s seeing from his former squad.

“I’m really proud of the guys, playing the way they’ve been playing,” Temple told NBC Sports California. “Obviously, we knew they were going to be good, but I didn’t know it was going to be this quick, honestly.”

“They’re playing their ass off,” Temple added. “I’m happy for them. I’m really happy for the city. This is long overdue.”

Trouble with Trez

Montrezl Harrell has been a handful for the Kings all season long. The 25-year-old big is averaging 23.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and two blocks per game against Sacramento, while shooting 77.1 percent from the field.

With Marvin Bagley on the shelf with a knee injury, rookie Harry Giles is likely to get a look against Harrell off Sacramento’s bench.

“It becomes more, I do what I do, just for a longer period of time,” Giles said following shootaround. “That’s all it is. Staying locked in and being ready to step up.”

[NBA Power Rankings 2019: How teams stand entering playoff push]

Giles has watched Harrell for a while. They are both from North Carolina and according to Giles, “We have similar energy, the same grit, I see where it all comes from, I understand it.”

If the Kings can’t find a solution to Harrell, it could be a long evening in Sacramento.

Kings to trade Garrett Temple to Grizzlies; Ben McLemore back in Sacramento

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AP

Kings to trade Garrett Temple to Grizzlies; Ben McLemore back in Sacramento

The Kings are making a move.

Sacramento is finalizing a trade that will send forward Garrett Temple to the Grizzlies, NBC Sports California's James Ham confirmed.

The Kings will receive guard Ben McLemore, center Deyonta Davis, a 2021 second-round draft pick and cash considerations in the deal.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski was the first to report the deal.

Temple played the last two seasons in Sacramento. Last year, he averaged 8.4 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 65 games (35 starts).

He is entering the final year of the three-year, $24 million contract that he signed with the Kings in the summer of 2016.

McLemore, who averaged 7.5 points over 56 games for the Grizzlies last season, spent his first four seasons in Sacramento after the Kings selected him seventh overall in 2013. He will earn $5,460,000 next season and then become an unrestricted free agent.

Davis was the 31st overall pick in the 2016 draft out of Michigan State. The 21-year old appeared in 62 games last year, averaging 5.8 points and 4.0 rebounds.

What Garrett Temple opting in to final year of contract means for Kings

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USATSI

What Garrett Temple opting in to final year of contract means for Kings

SACRAMENTO -- The roster is filling up. In an expected move, NBC Sports California has confirmed that Garrett Temple opted in to the final season of his 3-year, $24 million contract that he signed in July of 2016. 

The 32-year-old defender will make $8 million this season with the Kings, although his role on the team is unknown at this time. 

Temple played in 65 games last season, averaging 8.4 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 24.8 minutes per game. He shot an impressive 39.2 percent from behind the arc and provided stability as a player and mentor throughout the year. 

With Temple sticking around, the Kings now have 13 players on guaranteed contracts once rookie Marvin Bagley III inks his rookie scale deal. 

Veteran Presence

Temple is known for his work behind the scenes in the Kings locker room and in the community. He’s a pro’s pro that has helped change the culture in Sacramento during his previous two seasons. 

As of now, he’ll be joined by a small group of veterans, including Zach Randolph, Kosta Koufos and Iman Shumpert. This core four will be taxed with helping to develop the young players into professionals both on and off the court. 

Fight for Minutes

The wing position is crowded in Sacramento. Bogdan Bogdanovic and Buddy Hield are expected to eat most of the minutes at the shooting guard position. Both will likely steal time at the small forward spot as well, where Justin Jackson is likely to play.

Sacramento is also expected to address the small forward position via free agency, which will further complicate matters for Temple in his quest to see time on the court. Although he is still the best perimeter defender on the team, he will likely have to bide his time and wait for an opportunity to open up.

Financial Impact

Before opting in, the Kings were honest with the veteran about their intentions regarding playing time. But the NBA landscape is brutal this summer with very few teams having available cap space to spend. 

Temple is a player that spent years fighting his way into the league. He more than doubled his career earnings in his first season in Sacramento. There is no way he could walk away from an additional $8 million without a guarantee of making some of that money up with a new deal in a new location.

Sacramento still sits roughly $19 million under the salary cap as they move towards Sunday’s free agency period and it’s possible they will shop Temple, as well as the remaining veterans. Temple, Randolph, Koufos and Shumpert are all in the final year of their deals and may have value as expiring contracts.

If the Kings can’t find a new home for their veterans, the quartet will likely be asked to watch from the bench as the franchise goes with their planned youth movement.

The Out

With very little competition for players in a cash poor market, there is an outside chance that the Kings hit the free agent period hard. With an estimated $65-70 million in cap space next summer, Sacramento could use the stretch provision on any of their veterans to open up more flexibility under the NBA’s $101 million salary cap this summer. 

In this scenario, the team could waive a player and extend his salary over three seasons. For a player like Temple, that would open roughly $5.3 million in additional cap space this season, while committing $2.7 million in salary for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons. 

Marc Spears of the Undefeated was first with the news of Temple opting in.