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Clippers 2018-19 Exit Interview: Garrett Temple

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The real prize of the Avery Bradley trade was losing Bradley. But Garrett Temple provided needed depth for the Clippers in the process.

Houston Rockets v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images

Key Information:

Name: Garrett Temple

Age: 33

Years in the NBA: 8 years

Key stats: In 26 regular-season games for the Clippers (6 starts), Temple averaged 4.7 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 1.4 assists in 19.6 minutes per game. He shot 50 percent on 2-pointers and 29.6 percent on 3-pointers.

During the playoffs, Temple averaged 2.3 points, 1.2 rebounds, and 0.3 assists in 10.6 minutes per game. He only took 11 shots over six games, making 1-of-7 twos and 2-of-4 threes.

2018-19 salary: $8,000,000

Future contract status: Temple is an unrestricted free agent.

Summary:

Garrett Temple came to the Clippers on the day of the trade deadline in arguably the most impactful trade LA made all year: Temple and JaMychal Green for Avery Bradley. Bradley was one of the worst players, if not the worst, on the Clippers all season, and not exactly beloved by the fan base. That made Temple an instant upgrade over Bradley and, at 6’6”, he theoretically had the size to slot in as a wing defender, something the team was sorely missing all year.

Temple made an immediate impact for the Clippers, starting his first two games and scoring 11 points during LA’s historic comeback win over the Boston Celtics in the first game after the deadline. He only started four more games the rest of the way after Doc Rivers decided move Landry Shamet — and his superior shooting — into the starting lineup. Those spot starts came when Patrick Beverley or Shamet were injured. For most of his Clippers tenure, Temple joined the bench unit of Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, Green, and either Wilson Chandler or Tyrone Wallace. He was a consummate professional and dependable for LA as a veteran presence.

During the playoffs, Temple’s minutes were cut as the Clippers leaned more heavily on their starters. He was a little too small to guard Kevin Durant (though who isn’t?) and thus had minimal utility in an already crowded backcourt rotation.

Strengths:

Temple was better than Bradley. Full stop. That alone made him a valuable member of the Clippers rotation. The LA front office got so much love for the Tobias Harris trade and the Ivica Zubac/Mike Muscala trade that the deal with Memphis got overlooked for quite awhile. However, the narrative changed in April when it became clear what strong contributions both Temple and Green were providing for the Clippers.

Setting aside the fact that Temple was better than the player he was replacing, Temple fit the archetype of a great role player in Los Angeles. Rivers and numerous players said he was just a nice guy to have in the locker room, and he was an easy teammate to play with. Temple doesn’t demand the ball at all — his usage rate was a comically low 11 percent with the Clippers — which was a combination of Temple’s willingness to subsume to the team and the short amount of time he had to fit in with a new group after the trade deadline.

Temple was a good finisher around the rim, where he converted 64 percent of his looks, per Cleaning the Glass. He was pretty discerning about what types of shots to take, with only 11 percent coming in long midrange. Temple is also good at creating steals, drawing fouls, pushing the pace in transition. The majority of his value comes on the defensive end, but he’s competent enough offensively to keep things moving.

Weaknesses:

Temple wasn’t a particularly good shooter from distance in his time with the Clippers. A career 35 percent shooter from three, that fell to below 30 percent in Los Angeles, which diminished his value. He was also a little too tentative to look for his own shot outside of transition, when he was a still a below-average finisher.

The main problem with Temple was that he couldn’t find a way on the floor during the postseason. His veteran experience may have been a little exaggerated since he hadn’t appeared in the playoffs since 2015, and he didn’t bring enough to the table to justify minutes short of giving the Clippers’ other guards a rest. Temple played solid defense on Stephen Curry during the first-round series, but provided no resistance on Durant. Given that he wasn’t really providing anything on offense, that made him an inferior option to Shamet or Beverley.

Future with the Clippers:

You may have heard that LA is hunting some pretty big fish in the offseason, and that will require punting on almost all of the team’s existing free agents. Given that the Clippers are bringing back Lou Williams, Jerome Robinson, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Landry Shamet, and they still have the rights to Wallace, there isn’t much room for another 2-guard. And even if LA did want to retain a backcourt free agent, that honor would assuredly go to Beverley before Temple. Simply building a more balanced roster necessitates moving on from the former Grizzly.

It’s hard to say what Temple’s market will be. He is coming off a 3-year/$24 million contract from the Sacramento Kings that was signed in the crazy summer of 2016, and he’s on the wrong side of 30, so he could find himself in the team’s price range. However, it’s unlikely that LA will have a need for his services.

Overall grade: B-

Temple was a solid role player, but he didn’t provide anything special. He is, however, doing super cool things off the court and will assuredly be a great teammate wherever he ends up next.