Temple defender for Wizards

Temple defender for Wizards
December 26, 2012, 11:30 am
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Garrett Temple being brought up to the NBA, talk about your been there, done that scenarios. For the seventh time since the 2009-10 season and from a sixth different team, the former LSU guard received such a call on Saturday. Like an 8-year-old veteran of Christmas, no trace of jadedness existed in the actual 26-year-old when the inquiring Wizards reached out over the weekend.

Home for the Christmas break from his gig with the Reno Bighorns for the NBA's Developmental league, the point guard's phone rang. Wizards VP of Basketball Administration Tommy Sheppard was on the other end.

"He called me on the 22nd and told me I hope I'm not ruining your Christmas but we have practice on Christmas Day and we want you up here. I said 'that's the present I wanted,'" said Temple, who officially joined the team on Tuesday along with former Wizard Shelvin Mack.

Since A.J. Price's injury on Dec. 8, Washington's already suspect offense has grown increasingly erratic. Considering his experience in the Wizards system and that he currently leads the D-League in assists, this is where Mack fits in. However, the backcourt struggles have existed on both ends of the court; Atlanta's Jeff Teague and Detroit's Rodney Stuckey are among the guards who recently slashed and dashed, scored and dished their way into highly productive and winning performances against the locals. The Wizards released their only healthy true point guard - Shaun Livingston - over the weekend.

Adding a 6-foot-6 defender who can run an offense to his depleted guard unit is what Wizards coach Randy Wittman was looking for under his Christmas tree.

"I think number one, he gives us size and he can defend," Wittman of Temple following their first practice together. "I thought with where we were at, we really started getting broken down there at the point with the different guys that we had faced with Shaun and [Jordan Crawford]. I wanted to make sure defensively that we became, had the potential to become more solid at the point with a defender."

Undrafted out of LSU in 2009, Temple previously played 51 games with five teams including two stops in San Antonio and most recently with Charlotte in 2011. After spending preseason with the Miami Heat, he played nine games with Reno, averaging 14.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 5.8 assists.

Temple is keenly aware of what has been going on with the Wizards ("they've been in a lot of games and lost close games") and what they need from him.

"Be a defensive presence, be a leader," Temple said. "It's a very young team. Even though I've only played two years in the league, I have a leadership quality. Come in, play hard, play my game. Don't try to do anything that's outside my game and just come in and be a positive influence and try to play hard and get some wins."

Considering the Wizards lacking point guard options, both Temple and Mack could pick minutes right away, starting with Wednesday's home game against Kyrie Irving and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

"We're going to throw them to the wolves right away, see what they can handle, what they can do," Wittman said.

Asked about the opportunity with the Wizards, Temple said, "They brought me and Shelvin in here for a reason. Jordan is a great player but they need him to score, maybe not worry about setting people up as much. We have a chance to come in here and play."

Adding to the potential storylines, the Cavs picked up Livingston off waivers on Tuesday.

Not that every invite to the show isn't special, but the Wizards did manage to make this call-up for Temple different from the others.

"Every time I've gotten called up from the D-League it's been for 10-day contracts so that's a little different," said Temple, who is playing with a non-guaranteed contract. "I'm just looking forward to being here with the team being in a new city. I actually have family in DC, so I was able to spend Christmas with family, which was a great surprise."

So was receiving the call from the Wizards.