The Chicago Bulls and veteran guard Garrett Temple have agreed to a one-year contract, his agency Priority Sports announced Friday night.
The deal, which was first reported by ESPN, is said to be worth $5 million. The acquisition of Temple adds an experienced player to one of the youngest rosters in the league and creates some wing depth off the bench. For a young team that struggled to close out games last season, Temple’s addition in the locker room should be beneficial.
Temple, 34, started 35 games for the Brooklyn Nets last season and averaged a career-best 10.3 points with 3.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. His shooting percentage from three was down last season (32.9%), but he has been solid from beyond the arc in his career (34.7%). Temple was also a respected veteran in Brooklyn’s locker room and is one of seven National Basketball Players Association vice presidents.
As the Nets were ravaged by injuries last season, Temple even made spot starts at point guard, so he could aide the Bulls with playmaking and ballhandling responsibilities. A solid defender, he fits the front office’s plan to make the Bulls more versatile and find players who can contribute on both ends of the floor.
The Bulls did not have much flexibility to work with during free agency, with their roster spots at near capacity and only a mid-level exception (up to $9.3 million) and bi-annual exception ($3.6 million) available to add players, which is why vice president Arturas Karnisovas said the team would be “really picky” in free agency.
Temple’s contract is not for the full mid-level exception, which can be split among multiple players, so the Bulls still have room to add another player. But because their roster is nearly full, the Bulls would likely have to create another roster spot to do so. Temple becomes the 14th guaranteed contact on the 15-man roster as the Bulls have also extended a qualifying offer in hopes of retaining wing Denzel Valentine.
If the Bulls need to create a roster spot, they could waive a little-used players on the end of the bench (Cristiano Felicio is on an expiring contract) and eat a portion of their salary for next season. Or they could clear some room in a trade.
It seems likely the Bulls will start next season with much of the roster intact, returning the major pillars from a team that maintained a 22-43 record when their season abruptly ended because of COVID-19 eight months ago in March.
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