The Wizards’ season has been up and down, but that has been the story of Garrett Temple’s career.
They lost the first 12 games to start the season, own a winning record since John Wall’s return at 24-23 but are on a four-game losing streak.
With backcourt injuries to rookie Bradley Beal and A.J. Price, Temple has logged more time than expected. He has started 34 games in Washington. Though not a scorer, Temple is a solid defender and reliable ball-handler at 6-6.
A free agent when the season is over, Temple would like to remain here and put stress of signing 10-day contracts behind him. The Wizards are his sixth NBA team. He also has spent a lot of time in the D-League.
“I would love to be here next year. We just have a great thing building here with young guys, especially the way we've ended the season with the last 50 games, playing the way we've been playing since John’s been back,” Temple said. “We have a team that can contend in the East. I love this city. It’s easily the most home like place I've been playing in the NBA in the last three-and-a-half years.
Temple probably has done well enough to lock up a job somewhere in the NBA for the 2013-14 season. He averages just 4.9 points and can make the occasional three-pointer.
“I can’t put it into words. Only the guys that have been through it can understand what it’s like,” Temple said of the D-League call-ups. “Being in the D-League is OK. You’re playing the game you love but you take them 10-day contracts. At first it was a lot of pressure, but then I got so used to them when I signed the third, fourth, fifth one. I knew exactly what I needed to do in order to stick and what these guys are looking for. It’s a matter of just going out and playing. The 10-day contracts are the real pressure. This is just playing basketball.”
When Beal went down, Wizards coach Randy Wittman initially started three forwards with Wall and center Emeka Okafor. But he quickly realized he needed a better ball-handler on the floor to relieve the pressure.
That’s where Temple came in.
“When guys would cut me or sign me they would say just stick to what I know. Be a defender. Be a guy that sets people up,” Temple said. “I can play the point. I can play (shooting guard), guard my position, if I’m open knock down the shot with confidence. If you do those things you can find your niche and you can have a career in the NBA. I think my niche has been a guy that can defend on the perimeter and be a versatile player.”
Wherever Temple lands, he’s content with moving back to a supporting role. The 16 games he spent with the San Antonio Spurs, who have won four NBA championships since 1999, taught him that.
“I was lucky enough to start four games there and see how an organization works from the bottom to the top in terms of focusing on winning games first and foremost. Nobody has an agenda. Everybody’s worried about one thing, and that’s just winning games,” Temple said. “When you have a mindset like that, that’s how you get four championships."