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Garrett Temple embraces leadership role on and off court for Nets

Nets guard Garrett Temple after a three-pointer against

Nets guard Garrett Temple after a three-pointer against the Knicks in first half at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — To the Nets, 10th-year NBA veteran Garrett Temple is known simply as “Prez,” shorthand for president. Iman Shumpert and DeAndre Jordan often tease Temple about his penchant for wearing three-piece suits, and of course, Temple handles the razzing with pitch-perfect aplomb.

Temple has been with the Nets just since reaching agreement on a free-agent contract on June 30, but he already ranks as one of their main veteran leaders and a night like his 27-point effort in Wednesday’s win over the Hawks merely underscores his locker-room status.

“From the moment he got here, he’s a pro’s pro,” Joe Harris said of Temple. “That’s his reputation around the league. He’s the ultimate professional, he takes care of his business, he’s a great leader in the locker room. And obviously, he has nights like tonight, too, where he’s able to come up big and score the ball for us. You know the intangible things are going to be there, and the stuff at the defensive end is always going to be solid.”

Jarrett Allen echoed those sentiments and praised general manager Sean Marks and coach Kenny Atkinson for bringing in the right kind of veteran who not only could contribute on court but also fill the void left by the departure of such solid veterans as DeMarre Carroll, Ed Davis and Jared Dudley.

“Off the court, he’s the leader, telling us what to do...just how to live our lives,” Allen said of Temple. “He came in, and he didn’t try to push hard, he didn’t try to be overbearing. He kind of snuck his way into being our vet.”

Without a doubt, Atkinson is leaning heavily on Temple, a journeyman who is playing for his ninth NBA franchise. He's averaging a career-high 10.1 points along with 3.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists and shooting 36.8% from three-point range. Temple has started the past 12 games since Caris LeVert underwent right thumb surgery, and lately, Atkinson has subbed Temple out early so that he can bring him back with the four reserves who form the second unit to provide some scoring.

That’s a pattern that will continue when the Nets face the Hornets Friday night at Spectrum Center. “I’ve started on teams before, but I’ve never been a guy that needed to help run the second unit or score,” Temple said. “But my coaches are confident in me and my teammates are confident in me, which helps my confidence in my shot.

“The biggest thing is I know my role. Everyone on this team knows what their role is. I think Kenny has done a great job of letting people know what he wants them to do, and we’ve bought into it.”

Temple’s maturity is obvious, which is why coaches encourage his leadership, and opponents respect him. “I take pride in that, the coaches let me know they want me to have that role, which is something I don’t take for granted,” Temple said. “I want to make sure I go out there night in and night out and in practice and play the right way, try to be a pro. That’s the biggest thing is show these young guys how to be pros. At the end of the day, we have a lot of talent on this team. Talent plus professionalism makes for great careers, makes for long careers.”

Asked if he was known as “Prez” at any of his previous stops, Temple smiled and said, “Nah, first team. My pops told me I need to wear my suits this year, so, I guess the suits plus the leadership role gives me that name.”

Well-earned.

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