Garrett Temple suffered one of the most obvious hamstring strains you’ll ever see in Tuesday’s horrendous 105-83 loss to the Houston Rockets. Immediately when he hit the floor, you could tell it was a hamstring injury, and you could tell he was going to miss a decent chunk of time. It’s awful news for the Kings on and off the court, as you could probably make the case that Temple has been the Kings’ third best player this season after DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay, and Rudy is already out for the season after destroying his achilles earlier this year. Good times.
Temple said last night he was out 4 weeks with the same injury a couple seasons ago.— Jason Jones (@mr_jasonjones) February 2, 2017
If you are an Omri Casspi truther like myself, you could even argue that the Kings are playing without three of their four best players, as Casspi is still sitting out with a strained right calf that has been bothering him for what feels like forever. The Kings were weak on the perimeter before everyone got injured. This could get ugly.
If there was any silver lining to Temple’s injury, it was that, in theory, Dave Joerger would give promising rookie Malachi Richardson an extended look at starting shooting guard. If the Kings are divvying out playing time based on merit, Richardson starting in place of Temple is a no-brainer. He’s been lightyears better than any of his competition for Garrett Temple’s minutes. It’s probably going to come down to Matt Barnes, Ben McLemore, and Malachi Richardson, and Richardson has been the best player out of that crew this season. I’m not even sure it’s close.
That fact makes the following Jason Jones tweet profoundly disappointing.
For now, assume Matt Barnes is in the starting lineup and the reserve wins are Malachi Richardson and Ben McLemore.— Jason Jones (@mr_jasonjones) February 2, 2017
I believe Jones is speculating here as opposed to some kind of sourced report, but I can’t say I disagree with him. If I were to look at Joerger’s track record this season, yeah, I would assume he’ll slide Arron Afflalo back to shooting guard (a position he hasn’t been very effective at this season, he’s been better at small forward) and move Matt Barnes to the starting lineup at forward, thus making the Kings one of the most unwatchable teams in the NBA.
That last line was mostly a joke. A team shouldn’t choose its rotation based on watchability, but what, exactly, are the Sacramento Kings doing? They are a losing team. They are an injured team. And with Matt Barnes and Arron Afflalo in the starting lineup (presumably) they are an old team. Old and winning, great. Young and losing, fine! Old and losing? no mans land. You’re accomplishing nothing. The Kings are getting increasingly harder to sit through as more and more talented players go down, and more and more of the kids get passed over in the rotation by veterans who aren’t playing particularly well.
That is the extent of anger I’m going to display towards a decision that hasn’t already been made. All I want to say this morning is that Malachi Richardson should be the starting shooting guard while Garrett Temple is out. Not only is he the best option from a basketball standpoint, but it’s the best decision for the front office, for the coaching staff, and for the long-term future of the Sacramento Kings.