Basketball Insiders talks to Jimmer Fredette at the Las Vegas Summer League.
Garrett Temple on the Sacramento Kings, Free Agency and More
After years of playing on minimum contracts, being waived and bouncing around from team to team, Garrett Temple finally has some job security and a lucrative NBA contract. The 30-year-old recently signed a three-year, $24 million deal with the Sacramento Kings.
Temple’s contract will pay him $8,000,000 each season (with a player option for the final year), which is more than double what he earned over his first six years in the NBA combined.
When fans think of the NBA lifestyle, they typically imagine enormous mansions, ridiculous cars and full bank accounts. This is understandable, especially at a time like this when NBA teams are handing out some of the largest contracts in league history. While some players live a luxurious lifestyle and most are very comfortable (if they manage their money well), there are plenty of players who make significantly less than you would expect.
In the NBA D-League last season, salaries ranged from $13,000 to $25,000. And the $25,000 base salary is for the star players – many individuals earn significantly less.
Even if a player gets called up on a 10-day contract, their financial concerns don’t suddenly vanish. A 10-day contract pays 170th of a player’s designated minimum contract (based on their years of NBA experience). So, for example, an undrafted rookie on a 10-day contract will earn $31,969. While that’s obviously a lot of money for “10 days of work,” the player actually spent the entire year making sacrifices and working to get that opportunity.
This is why many players simply choose to go overseas and sign a seven-figure contract with an international team. Yes, they have to give up their NBA dream, but it’s much easier to support themselves (and their family) and comes with far more certainty.
Which brings us back to Temple, who is finally being rewarded after years of enduring the stress that comes with chasing an NBA dream. Temple had to grind extremely hard to get to where he is today.
After going undrafted in 2009, he started his professional basketball career in the D-League. Then, Temple proceeded to play for many different teams. Over the last six years, he had regular-season stints with six different NBA franchises (Houston, Sacramento, San Antonio, Milwaukee, Charlotte and Washington) and three different D-League teams (Rio Grande Valley, Erie and Reno). He also spent a season in Italy back in 2011. This doesn’t even include the teams he tried out for and didn’t make, like when he was the final training-camp cut by Miami in 2012.
He knows all too well that professional basketball is a business and has faced rejection many times, but he never gave up on making it in the league.
Finally, in recent years, Temple stuck with the Wizards and became a key player for them. In mid-December of last year, Temple became a starter when Bradley Beal was injured. He took full advantage of the opportunity, leading Washington to three straight victories over the Charlotte Hornets, Sacramento Kings and Memphis Grizzlies. He totaled 64 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists and four steals in the three contests while shooting 53.5 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from three.
Temple averaged 7.3 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists and one steal on the season, and got 43 starts under his belt. Still, he was on a minimum contract and his future was up in the air due to his looming unrestricted free agency.
However, this time around, not having a contract was great for Temple because NBA talent evaluators were noticing his production and how positive things typically happened when he was on the court. They saw that he hustled extremely hard, did the dirty work, made smart plays and defended the perimeter very well.
It’s no coincidence that the Wizards’ best plus-minus lineup from the 2015-16 season featured Temple, as did the two highest-scoring lineups they rolled out last year. Also, Temple led the Wizards in Defensive Rating (allowing 101 points per 100 possessions) and the team’s defense was noticeably worse when he was off the court (allowing 106.1 points per 100 possessions).
Temple ranked 11th among all shooting guards in Defensive Real Plus-Minus, which estimates a player’s on-court defensive impact. The metric Real Plus-Minus Wins estimates how many victories a player contributed to their team’s win total, and Temple’s RPM Wins for last season was 3.54 (tying him with Andrew Wiggins and putting him ahead of All-Star Dwyane Wade among others).
Suddenly, Temple was highly coveted. After being passed over time and time again throughout his career, he received interest from nearly a third of the NBA after free agency got underway on July 1. In addition to the Kings and Wizards, the Boston Celtics, New Orleans Pelicans, Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Brooklyn Nets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Memphis Grizzlies and Denver Nuggets also expressed some level of interest in Temple’s services.
And not only is he popular among executives these days, Temple is respected by his peers.
“Garrett was a great teammate and a good friend in Washington,” said Houston Rockets big man Nene, who played with Temple in Washington. “He worked extremely hard every day and he was always a positive influence on all of us. I’m very happy to see how much he has accomplished. He deserves everything that is happening for him and he is the perfect example of hard work paying off.”
“Garrett is someone who has improved every year he has been in the league and is quietly one of the best perimeter defenders whom no one talks about,” Los Angeles Clippers guard Jamal Crawford said. “This could be a true breakout year for him.”
The Kings are hoping that’s the case, banking on the belief that Temple’s best basketball is still ahead of him and he just needs an opportunity to showcase his complete skill set.
Basketball Insiders recently caught up with Temple to discuss his free agency decision, why he decided to join the Kings, how Sacramento is trying to change their culture and much more.
Alex Kennedy: What was it like going through free agency? You received a lot of interest from teams. I know some players like free agency and some hate it. What did you think of the process?
Garrett Temple: “Well this was my first time going through the process and having more than one or two teams actually interested, so that was different. I had a new agent this time – this is my first year with [Mark] Bartelstein. All of those things made it a little… I don’t want to say nerve-wracking, but I was anxious. It’s not like I didn’t know if I would be in the NBA or not, it was just a matter of figuring out the numbers and what team. It was just a very anxious time for me, I had nerves, but I was very excited as well. I soaked it all in.”
Kennedy: What’s it like going from being a guy who has bounced around the NBA and faced a lot of rejection to having a ton of teams call you and being highly coveted? How nice is it knowing that you have some stability now?
Temple: “Yeah, it’s definitely nice to know that! Even in Washington, my first year was obviously a non-guaranteed deal until January. Then, I signed a one-year deal, so I was basically playing for a new contract again. Then, I signed a two-year deal, which was good. But I’ve been on 10-day contracts here and 10-day contracts there, not knowing where I’d be next. It was really fulfilling to have teams call me on the first night of free agency. And that was part of the reason why I chose Sacramento. One or two other teams actually called, but the Kings had all of the brass call that first night: Vlade [Divac], Ken Catanella, Coach [Dave] Joerger. I got the chance to talk to all of them on the first night and they explained to me how I’d fit with their team and what they saw me doing. It feels great to have some job security, and I’ve been playing for the minimum for my whole career so to get paid a little more is obviously a plus as well.”
Kennedy: What role did they describe to you? How do they envision you fitting in?
Temple: “First and foremost, Coach Joerger just told me how much he likes my versatility and how important that is in today’s NBA since [teams want] guys that can guard multiple positions. I feel like I can guard one through three, for sure, and I can even guard some fours with the way the league is these days. That’s valuable. He also said he enjoyed what I was able to do in terms of improving on the offensive end this year. It probably helped that I had 20 points against Memphis [and Coach Joerger] and 23 points against Sacramento this past year (laughs). They want me to play the one, two and three. They like my leadership abilities. He said, ‘I’ve seen you play and from what I’m hearing, you’re a great locker room guy too – one of the best in the league.’ Obviously the culture here is something that needs to be put back on the right track. You see the guys that we’ve signed: Arron Afflalo, good veteran guy; Matt Barnes, good veteran guy; Anthony Tolliver, good veteran guy. We’re guys who are going to try to come in here and help. We all approach the game a certain way and hopefully we can teach that to the young guys. They were adamant that they envision me being an integral part of the team and that was obviously great to hear, especially with my background. Being valued as a guy who can produce and will be relied on every night is something that I’ve been waiting for a long time.”
Kennedy: That was my next question for you. You’ve shown what you can do when given minutes and now it seems like your role is about to significantly expand. Do you expect this to be a breakout, career-year for you?
Temple: “I think so. I think the opportunity is there. Like I said, Coach Joerger believes in my abilities and that I can produce, so I’ll be on the court a good amount this year. I really plan on working on my game this summer, working on the aspects of my game that need to improve. I’ll be playing some point guard this year, and obviously playing the two and the three as well. But I’m working on my decision-making coming off of ball screens. People don’t realize that I’m a pretty good decision-maker and that I played point guard a lot growing up. I played point guard my whole high school career and a lot in college. The last couple of years I’ve been playing on the wing more, but I’m going to show people that I’m a versatile guy that can play the one, two and three.”
Kennedy: You played in Sacramento earlier in your career. Fair or not, there’s this perception that the Kings are dysfunctional and that players don’t want to be there. You chose to go back there and, like you said, they are trying to bring in veterans to change the culture. But what do you make of that perception? Is it overstated that players don’t want to be in Sacramento?
Temple: “Actually, my first year here was my rookie year and I was on a 10-day contract. I had come here from Houston. They offered me a contract so instead of going back to the D-League, I would go to Sacramento. Of course [I said yes]. Then, I had a choice between Sacramento and San Antonio, and I decided to leave to go to San Antonio. Because, obviously, San Antonio was San Antonio. It was 2010. But honestly, the [Kings] franchise wasn’t in a great place. The new ownership, the new front office and obviously Coach Joerger are understanding what it’s going to take to build a team and they know it starts with the culture of the team first. You have to have the right culture, from the equipment manager all the way up to the owner. From the things they’ve told me, they’re on board and willing to make this a culture where people want to come play and want to come win. And I’m very happy to be a part of the start of that.”
Kennedy: Let’s talk about the expectations for this team. DeMarcus Cousins is one of the best centers in the NBA, if not the best, and…
Temple: “He’s the best center in the NBA.”
Kennedy: Alright, well let’s start there. How excited are you to play with DeMarcus?
Temple: “I’m excited. I’m excited, man. I’m excited for him to be on my side instead of having to game-plan against him. He’s a guy who is just so talented and he’s been able to add the three-point shot to his arsenal as well.
“As far as expectations, I envision us playing a more up-tempo game with the pieces that we have, and I see us being able to win a lot more games than people think. Our division has obviously gotten competitive with a certain move (laughs, referring to the Warriors signing Kevin Durant to Golden State), but I envision us being able to win games with the veterans we’ve brought in plus the guys already on the team like DeMarcus, Rudy [Gay], D.C. [Darren Collison] and Kosta Koufos, who is a great post player who can score and do a lot of things. I think we have a chance to push for a playoff spot, man. That’s definitely going to be the goal.”
NBA Daily: Jaylen Brown Set To Return For Celtics
The Celtics finally got some good news on Thursday. Jaylen Brown’s return is imminent.
Finally, some good news for the Boston Celtics.
Jaylen Brown is set to return to action.
Brown has been M.I.A. since sustaining a concussion during the team’s 117-109 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves back on March 8, but has traveled with the team to Portland and is expecting to return to the lineup on Sunday when the Celtics do battle with the Sacramento Kings.
As the Celts gear up for a playoff run, which they hope will result in them ending LeBron James’ reign atop the Eastern Conference, they’ve picked the wrong time to run into injury issues. Along with Brown, both Kyrie Irving and Marcus Smart have each been conspicuous by their absences, and the team could certainly use all of their pieces as they attempt to enter the postseason on a high note.
Fortunately for Boston, with the Toronto Raptors leading them by 4.5 games in the standings and the Celts ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers by a comfortable six games, Brad Stevens’ team is enjoying the rare situation of having a playoff seed that appears to be somewhat locked in.
Still, with the team only able to go as far as its young rotation will carry it, Brown addressed the media on Thursday.
“I’m feeling a lot better. I’m just trying to hurry up and get back,” Brown said, as quoted by Celtics.com.
“I’m tired of not playing.”
Stevens is probably tired of him not playing, too.
As we head into the month of April, playoff-bound teams and conference contenders begin to think about playing into June, while the cellar-dwellers and pretenders begin to look toward the draft lottery and free agency.
What’s funny is that in the midst of the Raptors and their rise out East, the Celtics and their dominance has become a bit of a forgotten storyline. When Gordon Hayward went down on opening night, the neophytes from the Northeast were thought to be a decent team in the making whose ceiling probably wasn’t anywhere near that of the Cavs, the Raptors and perhaps even the Washington Wizards.
Yet through it all, with the impressive growth of Jaylen Brown, impressive rookie Jayson Tatum and the rise of Irving as a franchise’s lynchpin, the Celtics stormed out the games to the tune of a a 17-3 record. What made the strong start even more impressive was the fact that the team won 16 straight games after beginning the season 0-2.
Although they weren’t able to keep up that pace, they began the month of February having gone 37-15 and turned a great many into believers. With their spry legs, team-first playing style and capable leader in Irving, the Celtics, it was thought, were a true contender in the Eastern Conference — if not the favorite.
Since then, and after experiencing injuries to some of its key cogs, the team has gone just 11-8.
In the interim, it seems that many have forgotten about the team that tantalized the Eastern Conference in the early goings of the season.
Brown’s return, in one important respect, will signify a return to Boston’s prior self.
With Marcus Smart having recently undergone surgery to repair a torn tendon in his right thumb, he is expected to be out another five weeks or so, meaning that he’ll likely miss the beginning of the postseason.
As for Irving, although reports say that his ailing knee has no structural damage, everything the Celtics hope to accomplish begins and ends with him. FOX Sports 1’s Chris Broussard believes that it’s no slam dunk that Irving returns to action this season, but he’s in the minority. This team has simply come too far to not give themselves every opportunity to compete at the highest level, so long as doing so doesn’t jeopardize the long term health of any of the franchise’s cornerstones.
Make no mistake about it, the Celtics are far from a finished product. With their nucleus intact and flexibility preserved, they will have another offseason with which to tinker with their rotation pieces and plug away at building a champion.
But here and now, with what they’ve got, the Celtics are much closer than any of us thought they would be at this point.
And on Sunday, when Jaylen Brown rejoins his team in the lineup, to the delight of the Boston faithful, the Celtics will be that much closer.
Winslow and the Miami HEAT Are “Believing in Each Other”
Justise Winslow discusses the all-around team effort of the Miami HEAT with Basketball Insiders.
The days of LeBron James in Miami are over. Chris Bosh isn’t there anymore, either. No more Ray Allen or Shane Battier. Dwyane Wade is back, but he’s not “Flash” nowadays.
Actually, check the entire Miami HEAT roster; there’s no superstar. They have an All-Star in Goran Dragic, even if he was the third alternate. But during this most recent playoff push, the HEAT don’t have a worldwide household name to plaster all over billboards as a reason for their success.
With 10 games remaining until the playoffs, Miami doesn’t have a player averaging more than 33 minutes per game. Instead, they have 11 players who average at least 20 minutes a contest. Their approach is that of a deep rotation, and its led them to a 39-33 record and the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference. All while the rest of the league is star-driven.
One of those key cogs to the Miami machine is third-year wing, Justise Winslow. A former top-10 pick out of Duke, Winslow is enjoying most efficient season so far for the HEAT. To him, the fact that his squad isn’t littered with names like LeBron and Steph doesn’t make a difference.
“I think our team is extremely confident in each other,” Winslow said. “I think that’s a big thing is that we all believe in each other. We play to each other’s strengths, and most importantly we’re a defensive-minded team. We hang our hats on the defensive end, and that’s really what gets us going as a team.”
Winslow isn’t exaggerating. The HEAT is seventh in the NBA in defensive rating. Head coach Erik Spoelstra harps on the team’s defensive scheme and preparation. Without a go-to scorer capable of getting the team 30 any given night, Miami needs to do their job as a collective unit on the defensive end of the floor night in and night out.
“Each night the coaching staff preaching to us that we have enough, no matter who is in the lineup,” Winslow said. “So it’s just about going out there and executing and putting together a good game of 48-minute basketball. I think our belief in each other that we have enough to get the job done is key.”
In the current NBA landscape, a lot of the playoff contenders are centered around players with big resumes and bigger names. As a result, the HEAT get lost in the shuffle of the national conversation from time to time. Their culture of togetherness and slight from the media outside of their city could make for the perfect “chip on the shoulder” recipe. Or so you would think. Winslow doesn’t believe the chatter, or lack thereof, matters any to Miami.
“We don’t pay too much attention to that,” Winslow said. ‘We’re so focused, and locked in on our team, and each other, and trying to win each game. For us, it’s about having the respect of your peers, of the other team. I think every night no matter who we have or who’s healthy, I think teams know we’re going to be a tough, physical team. Guys in this league don’t want that, you don’t want to have to play against a Miami HEAT team that’s going to be physical, that’s going to get into your body, that’s going to make you play a hard, 48-minute basketball game.”
Because of the HEAT’s brand of basketball, an 82-game season can be grueling. For Winslow, keeping his body right throughout the grind is important to him. After dealing with a few injuries last season, and ultimately being shut down for the year last January to undergo right shoulder surgery for a torn labrum, Winslow was determined to make sure he kept his body in check throughout his comeback so he would be available for a long playoff run.
While his numbers aren’t flashy, Winslow is showing improvement. His 49.3 true shooting percentage is the highest of his career, along with shooting nearly 43 percent from beyond the arc, Winslow made strides in arguably the biggest knock against his game since coming out of college.
Because NBA players have the freedom to form partnerships with whichever companies they’d like, Winslow made the choice to strike up a partnership that he felt would not only help him off the court but more importantly, on it as well.
“My partnership with MET-Rx has been great,” Winslow said. “They’ve really helped take my game to the next level with all their nutritional supplements, and the Big 100 bar. So, for me, I’m always looking for ways to stay off my feet, but also get in the best shape possible and this was just a great way to help.”
The grind of the NBA season is also eased for playoff teams by a veteran presence. So, when the HEAT brought back franchise legend Wade at the trade deadline, their locker room suddenly had a face and feel of someone who’s been there before. A player who reached the pinnacle, with the very team that traded for him nonetheless.
Getting Wade back to Miami was crucial for the team’s playoff run down the stretch, and more importantly for Winslow, who benefited greatly from his time with the future Hall of Famer when he was fresh out of college.
“First and foremost, it was great to get him back,” Winslow said. “Just the role that he played in my career as a rookie, and everything I learned from him. But then also, just the energy and positivity that he brought to the locker room, and also the community of Miami, the city of Miami as a whole. It was a much-needed energy boost, and good vibes that he brought back for that post All-Star break push for playoffs. So, it’s just been great having him back, and it’s kind of rejuvenated the team and the locker room, and just the city in general.”
Wade is the MVP-caliber player he once was this time around, though. But that’s okay. This version of the Miami HEAT is charging toward the postseason with a team-first mentality.
NBA Daily: The Road Ahead for Michael Porter Jr.
Michael Porter Jr. is an elite prospect, but questions surrounding his back will determine his landing spot in the NBA.
The Road Ahead for Michael Porter Jr.
While some of the highly thought of college players have made their intentions on declaring for the 2018 NBA Draft known, Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr still hasn’t made his proclamation. Most people in NBA circles believe he’ll be in the 2018 NBA Draft class—you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t think he’s in.
Back in November, the Missouri staff was somewhat vague and guarded about Porter’s condition until it was announced that he’d have back surgery on a couple of problematic discs in the lumbar area of his spine. The procedure is called a microdiscectomy and by all accounts was a success.
Porter missed virtually all of his college season but opted to play in the post-season for Missouri, who got eliminated fairly quickly.
There were certainly a lot of ugly things about Porter’s game. He looked out of shape, and certainly wasn’t the overwhelming dominating force he’d been in high school. Some executives applauded his decision to play, even though he wasn’t at a 100 percent. Some pointed to that fact that too many college players play it safe and that’s not always viewed positively. Almost no one Basketball Insiders spoke with was holding the less than stellar outing against him. In fact, most had far more positive things to say than negative. There was one resounding theme from the NBA executives who spoke about this situation—none of it matters until they see his medical.
Assuming Porter does as expected and hires an agent and enters the draft, the next challenge he’ll face is how open he wants to be to teams looking at drafting him.
In recent years, NBA teams have not shied away from using high draft picks on injured or recently injured players. Once a team can get a sense of how the player is recovering, they can make a value judgment.
Agents often use this information and access to the player to help steer their client to the situation they deem most favorable. While fans and outsiders often get caught up in the pick number a player ultimately lands at, more and more agents are concerned with fit, especially for a player that may need time to get back to 100 percent.
Most agents would want to steer their client to a team with favorable medical staff, a team with a proven track record of patience or more importantly, a team with the best chance at a long and fruitful career.
This won’t be good news for some team that could end up in the top 10, as it’s more likely that Porter isn’t made available to everyone. NBA executives will tell you, they can certainly draft him if they wanted to, but most teams won’t draft a player if their medical staff doesn’t sign off, and without information and access how can they do that?
There is a significant financial difference in going third in the draft ($5.47 million) and 10th ($2.964 million) – but several agents commented that the short-term money shouldn’t drive the long-term decision, especially if the player isn’t 100 percent. The fit and situation typically trump everything in these situations.
Another concept to consider is while Porter did play, there are questions about whether he’ll host a pro-day, take part in private team workouts or simply let his body of work drive his draft value.
Almost no one who spoke about this situation believed Porter would take part in the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, as he’d have to subject himself to the medical testing that’s part of that event.
The common perception on Porter is he’s a top-five talent, although it seems more likely that his camp is going to try and work the process to ensure he lands in a favorable situation. That could mean he falls out of top-five selections, simply because he and his agents choose to.
There is still a lot that needs to play out for Porter, including his announcement that he will enter the draft. But given where things stand with him, it’s more likely than not he’s coming into the draft, and it’s more likely than not he’ll have a lot of questions NBA teams will want to understand before his real draft position is clear.
The NBA Draft Lottery will be held in Chicago this year and is scheduled for May 15th. The annual Draft Combine, also in Chicago, gets underway on May 16th.
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