Wizards building team with solid role players
Garrett Temple wasn't the first player the Wizards came to contract terms with during this summer's free agency period. The versatile guard didn't mind the delay. He'd already waited his entire NBA career for a guaranteed contract so what would be a couple of more days.
After taking care of Martell Webster and Eric Maynor, the Wizards turned to Temple and agreed to a one-year deal for the veteran's minimum. The deal was announced on Wednesday, though he had more than a hint of the team's sincere interest before then. Temple said Wizards coach Randy Wittman and team president Ernie Grunfeld expressed their desire to keep the undrafted LSU product during the team's exit interviews. They backed up the talk immediately once the free agency window opened.
"They contacted my agent the first day of free agency," Temple said. "That was real important for us. They obviously thought of me as a guy they want to sign quickly even though I'm not, you know, one of the top tier free agents. The chemistry I had last year with the team, we all talked about that, the nucleus of our team. Once they got to Martell and Eric, they talked to me."
After originally signing him out the NBA D-League to a 10-day contract last Christmas, the Wizards handed the heady combo guard a present he's craved his entire professional life: security.
"First time I'll ever have gone into training camp with a guaranteed contract, knowing that I'm on the roster," Temple said during a phone interview with CSNwashington.
"This is the first team that gives me a shot, my first guaranteed deal and I definitely thanked them for that," he continued. "I don't plan on disappointing them at all. It feels great to have that out the way, not have to look over your shoulder...you're able to just play."
Even without a guaranteed deal last year, Temple played hard and played smart for the Wizards, averaging 5.1 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 51 games. More than any conventional stat, his defensive mentality and coachable demeanor made him a favorite of head coach Randy Wittman.
He started 36 games, stepping in initially at the point with John Wall sidelined then later off the ball when ankle injuries sidelined Bradley Beal. Depending on collective injuries or overall good health, Temple's minutes fluctuated from lots to little. His winning attitude never changed. Even with a guaranteed deal, there is little reason to think it will now.
"I'm looking forward to whatever role they put me in," Temple said. "I'm going to be happy with it. I'm the most team guy that you'll see, so whether I have to cheer on the bench for 82 games or playing 40 minutes a game, I'm good with either one."
For all the nice guy talk, don't think the 27-year-old is content with simply being on the roster.
While Maynor's projection is that of Wall's primary backup, Temple showed he could run the offense when needed. He offers enough size and length to play the off-guard slot, though Webster, Trevor Ariza and Otto Porter are also in the mix. Perhaps second rounder Glen Rice Jr., who for now does not have one of those guaranteed deals, will join the rotation during the season. With so many options, there is greater uncertainty with how Wittman plans to allocate the minutes behind Beal. In both cases, Temple plans on making the decision challenging.
"I think I'll have virtually the same role I had last year. I was the third point guard. I'll come into training camp being as competitive as I can be at the point guard spot. I'd like to try to be the main backup to Bradley at the two-spot. We have a lot of guys that can play multiple positions."
With Temple, the Wizards also currently have 13 players with guaranteed contracts.