A little under a month ago, it was reported that Garrett Temple will sign a one-year contract with Casale in Northern Italy with no NBA out clause that would allow him to return to the NBA should a CBA agreement be reached mid-season.
At first blush, you may not think much of this move. After all, he would have been the third point guard on the roster. But Garrett could have been a pretty good fit with the Bobcats new backcourt. With D.J. Augustin's defensive problems as well as his and Kemba Walker's height disadvantages on defense, the 6'5" Temple fills a need for a big, defensive-minded guard. Earlier this summer, Bobcats President of Basketball Operations Rod Higgins said that he wanted to find a big guard that could defend with a decent post game. So, basically he wants Shaun Livingston, whom the Bobcats traded on draft night with Stephen Jackson for Corey Maggette and the seventh pick (Bismack Biyombo). But save for that one component, Temple would have been a fit, especially as 9th or 10th man. He could guard the bigger guards that could give Augustin or Walker trouble and he could be plugged in at SG, even though that means taking a hit on offense.
But now with the NBA heading to court with the Player's Association and NBPA executive director Billy Hunter saying on record that he doesn't think there will be a season, Temple's move seems all the brighter.
I don't exactly know how the competition is in this Italian league, but Casale is a team in the highest professional basketball division in Italy, Lega A. In recent years, Italian basketball is most famous for being the training grounds for Brandon Jennings where he spent a year playing ball instead of going to college. His team, Lottomatica Roma, was also in the Lega A division. What many people don't realize is that despite the stereotype that all European players are soft, their basketball is more physical than the NBA. There are no hand-checking fouls, which makes it tougher for guards to get to the paint, even if they are quick. This physicality is one of the reasons Brandon Jennings was so prepared to start for Milwaukee. The figurative ball and chain was removed and he could turn the corner around other guards to get into the paint and to where ever he wanted to be on the court. For Temple, being able to get tons of experience at the point as opposed to waiting for the lockout to end and returning as the third PG on the Bobcats looks like a good move.
For Temple, I don't see much downside to this. The lockout would prevent him from making his salary, which he needs more as opposed to the superstars who can probably get by for a long time on their savings (or, at least I hope they've saved money). And in the best case, Temple returns the following season a more confident and improved point guard.
He has the skills to run the pick and roll well, but has weaknesses in a few other areas, most important of which is his spot-up shooting. Being able to shoot consistently from deep can make his PnR all the more dangerous as opposed to now when defenders don't have to pressure him as much and choose to go under screens and prevent penetration even though that means giving Temple the opportunity for a three.
The Bobcats could be up a creek sans paddle without Temple as one of the best defensive guards on the team should a season occur after all. Finding NBA-quality, tall point guards that defend well, can run the point and are serviceable on the block is not the easiest task. In all odds, the Bobcats will pay close to a minimum salary for a versatile defensive guard that lacks on offense, a slightly worse version of Garrett Temple, if you will. Frankly, that's all they need, and to pay exceedingly for a better guard that could become the #2 PG is a waste of money in this subpar free agency for a season that looks to be focused on developing young talent.
Maybe we'll see Garrett Temple in a Bobcats jersey again someday. Paul and Stephen Silas seem to be intrigued in his skill set and want to help him develop. As he is now, Temple's a fine 11 or 12th man that coaches should want in the locker room. Even if you think that doesn't matter to you, small things matter and having a good presence with your young developing guards can be helpful.
Regardless, best of luck to Temple in his endeavors overseas this year. I know he'll continue to work hard like he has been this whole summer and every year prior.