The Phoenix Suns just suffered through one of the worst seasons in franchise history, and now they must make some decisions regarding the talent (or lack thereof) on the roster.
Of course, there were some bright spots to a terrible season. Players such as Goran Dragic, P.J. Tucker and Jermaine O'Neal demonstrated plainly enough that it is possible to exceed expectations and have a terrific season on an individual basis, even on a team where so many things went wrong.
Bu then there were several players who completely failed at producing in Phoenix this past season. Shannon Brown is one name that comes to mind, but Michael Beasley is the name that is sure to leave a bitter taste in the mouth of Suns fans long after he is gone.
When the Suns signed Beasley to a three-year, $18 million deal in July, they thought that he could be the primary scoring option that the roster lacked. After all, Beasley had scored almost 20 points per game in the 2010-11 season with the Minnesota Timberwolves, and after just four NBA seasons, he seemed poised to blossom into an All-Star.
But after his most recent campaign with the Suns, it has become evident that Beasley may never succeed at the professional level, regardless of the environment or the coach mentoring him.
After started the first 20 games of the season, Beasley had worn out his welcome with the Suns. For the majority of the year he struggled to find playing time. He finished the season averaging a career-low 20.7 minutes per game.
We all know that Beasley's defense is subpar, and that his rebounding and playmaking skills are lackluster at best. That is why it was so imperative that he at least contribute in the scoring column.
But Beasley struggled offensively as well, and he contributed a negative number of offensive win shares for the second consecutive year. In prior seasons, Beasley was at best only slightly below average when it came to efficiency in terms of effective field-goal percentage.
However, as the graph below shows, Beasley put up a career-low 43.4 effective field-goal percentage with the Suns, which is well below the league average.
But it doesn't stop there either. Among players who played at least 1,000 minutes over the course of an NBA season, Beasley's -2.5 offensive win shares made him the worst offensive player in Phoenix Suns history. In fact, he is one of just four Suns players to contribute fewer than -1 offensive win shares in a season, and two of the other three players were from the team's first and second seasons as an NBA franchise.
When compared to all NBA players, Beasley's offensive win shares stat is the 17th worst in NBA history. The last time a player had a worse OWS output was Denver's Junior Harrington (2002-03).
By this point, every Suns fan is aware of Beasley's inconsistency on the offensive end. His personality has become a problem too, and Beasley has appeared in the news multiple times. He was cited for driving with a suspended license, and more recently he was placed under investigation for alleged sexual assault.
And things aren't much better on the court with teammates and interim head coach Lindsey Hunter. During a stretch in which he was playing productive basketball, Beasley stated that he was playing better simply because he "stopped listening to everybody"—including his coaches.
Meanwhile, when Beasley makes boneheaded plays like the one in the video below, he isn't exactly impressing his coach.
Michael Beasley has reached rock bottom in Phoenix, and unfortunately there doesn't seem to be a way out. He couldn't even keep his starting spot when his competition was P.J. Tucker, Wesley Johnson, Jared Dudley and Marcus Morris. As the Suns rebuild, they will certainly bring in new wing talent from both the draft and free agency, and that means there will be even more competition for Beasley to deal with.
The fans have completely turned on Beasley, and the only solution now appears to be for Phoenix general manager Ryan McDonough to erase this mess by having the Suns cut ties with Beasley altogether.
However, getting rid of him is no simple solution either. He's making $6 million for the next couple of seasons, and no sane NBA GM would be willing to trade for him given his current production.
The amnesty clause is also fantastic in these situations, but the Suns already cut Josh Childress a year ago.
However, there is still one way out, and it is to simply release Beasley over the offseason and "stretch" him.
For those unaware, the stretch provision allows an NBA team to waive a player over the offseason and pay his remaining guaranteed sum of money over an extended period of time. The team will pay the player that money over twice the number of years remaining on his contract, plus one.
For example, a player released with two years left on his contract will be paid the same amount of money, but over the course of five years instead. In Beasley's case, that means the Suns pay his remaining $12.25 million over five years instead of two, meaning they can save some cap space to sign free agents right away.
At this point, that seems like the best option for Phoenix. They could keep Beasley and give him another chance, but it seems as if he has already overstayed his welcome. It is time for both parties to move on.
It is a shame to see such a fantastic college prospect blow an opportunity with another NBA team, and this may have been Michael Beasley's last opportunity to start in the NBA.
Hopefully Beasley can finally get his act together and find just one setting where he can succeed. But you can guarantee that that setting won't be in Phoenix.