Teams That Should Gamble on Michael Beasley's NBA Future
The expectations weren't high for Michael Beasley with the Phoenix Suns. All he really had to do was not get arrested a half-dozen times or be one of the league's absolute worst players.
He couldn't meet those modest standards.
Now that Phoenix has decided to pay Beasley upwards of $9 million to go away, according to Suns.com, the requisite speculation can begin about his next destination. After a series of increasingly disappointing washouts, the former No. 2 overall pick has flunked his way off of what might be the league's most hapless roster.
So, where does Beasley go from here?
In theory, he'd be an ideal acquisition for a rebuilding team. But for clubs that are starting over, it's not just about losing games—something Beasley would definitely help accomplish. It's also about creating a positive culture in which young, impressionable talent can flourish.
Because adding Beasley to an environment loaded with young players is like striking a match in a room with a propane leak, don't expect the league's worst teams to come calling. He proved in Phoenix that he couldn't be trusted to do anything but flame out.
That leaves established clubs with strong, no-nonsense personalities as the only landing spots for B-Eazy. Veterans with a zero-tolerance policy for his B.S. might be able to keep him in line. And ideally, the team that takes a risk on him will be able to cut him loose quickly if he can't act like a grown-up.
Put simply, the only teams that can handle his baggage are the ones that don't really need him.
It wouldn't be surprising if we never heard from Beasley again (police blotter excluded). But if he has to end up somewhere, the following pillars of the NBA community would give him the best chance at continuing his career.
Yes, the Miami Heat have been down the Beasley road before. After selecting him with the second pick in the 2008 draft, they gave the troubled rookie two seasons before cutting him loose.
Of course, that particular period existed between the Heat's 2006 championship run and the current LeBron James era. So other than Dwyane Wade, there really wasn't much in the way of veteran oversight to keep unruly young players on the right path.
If Miami is in the market for inexpensive scoring (which it should be), it could do a lot worse than Beasley. Maybe getting run over by James every day in practice would help Beasley realize that he has to start taking his career seriously.
Miami struck gold with a similarly risky Chris Andersen signing last season, so there's a precedent for troubled personalities finding a home with the Heat.
Best of all, if it appears that the second go-round with Beasley is going to end up like the first, the Heat can just send him packing.
Any place where Delonte West gets a chance should automatically be in the running for a potential Beasley revival.
The Dallas Mavericks are proven outside-the-box thinkers when it comes to signing talent with a checkered past off the scrap heap. West didn't work out for the Mavs two seasons ago, but perhaps Beasley, who is also flirting with his last NBA chance, will do more with his shot in Dallas.
Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion and Vince Carter have all been around for a long time, and they'd form a solid veteran core that might be able to help Beasley find his way.
The Mavs aren't anywhere near being championship contenders, so they don't match up with all of the ideal criteria we set out. But in terms of a stable organization with good influences on the roster, they're not a bad option.
Los Angeles Lakers
Beasley is 6'9", has hit at least 36 percent of his three-point attempts in three of his five NBA seasons and plays absolutely no defense.
Sounds like Mike D'Antoni's dream come true.
Seriously, though, the Los Angeles Lakers' frontcourt reserves are a joke. So there's really no harm in extending a camp invite to Beasley. If all he did on offense was stand in the corner and shoot threes, he'd probably outproduce most of the current bench forwards on the roster.
Plus, Kobe Bryant would get another chance to employ the "tough love" approach that helped drive away Dwight Howard. If worse comes to worst, Bryant's in-your-face leadership will reveal Beasley to be the lazy, uncommitted malcontent everyone believes him to be. That would result in a quick cut with no harm done.
But if Bryant's hard-charging style actually worked, L.A. would find itself with a reformed, talented forward. That's an extremely far-fetched possibility, but stranger things have happened.
Oklahoma City Thunder
At the moment, the Oklahoma City Thunder are relying on some combination of Jeremy Lamb and Reggie Jackson to provide scoring from the second unit. Maybe that'll work out just fine.
But just to be safe, maybe the team could also use a little added punch.
Beasley hasn't put the ball in the hoop with any real efficiency since his rookie year, when he averaged 13.9 points per game on 47 percent shooting. So the assumption that he can generate decent offensive production in limited minutes is hardly a safe one.
Of the potential roles available, though, "reserve scoring threat" seems to be the best one for him. He wouldn't be expected to guard starters, and he could basically shoot to his heart's content.
OKC needs someone to do damage off the bench, and it definitely has the sturdy infrastructure necessary to take on the risk of signing Beasley. If things start to go bad, Kendrick Perkins has as good a chance as anybody to scare him straight.
Not only that, but Kevin Durant and Beasley came up playing together in Maryland and continue to host pro-am games over summers. If anyone could get Beasley's ear, it'd be Durant.
The Thunder have no cap space to make any big moves in the near future, so taking a shot on Beasley for the league minimum might be their best chance to bolster the bench.
San Antonio Spurs
Admittedly, part of the reason behind this suggestion comes from a desire to see San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich's facial expressions when Beasley fires off one of his trademark ill-advised jumpers.
But there's also some logic behind sending Beasley to San Antonio.
The Spurs have brought in Stephen Jackson for two separate stints, which proves they're not afraid of taking on a few character issues as long as they come with talent attached. Plus, there's not a team in the league with a stronger foundation or more veteran leadership than the Spurs.
If Beasley needs a role model, he'll find one (or seven) in San Antonio.
Every other team gave up on Danny Green, Boris Diaw and Matt Bonner, and each of them has found a home with the Spurs. The NBA has soured on Beasley for very different reasons, but we know that San Antonio is a good spot for reclamation projects.
Frankly, he'd be lucky if the Spurs gave him a call.
Los Angeles Clippers
Consider this suggestion a vote of confidence for Doc Rivers' skills in player relations. The Los Angeles Clippers' new head coach is one of the league's best when it comes to connecting with difficult talent.
As proof, just try to come up with another coach who could have kept the incompatible personalities of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo from clashing in a way that torpedoed a season.
Sure, there were a few hiccups along the way, but Rivers won a title with guys who would have been at each other's throats without him around to keep the peace.
The bright lights of L.A. might not be the ideal spot for someone as prone to off-the-court troubles as Beasley. But with Rivers around as a mentor, maybe the extracurriculars would fade into the background.
Chris Paul would certainly have no patience for Beasley's listless play. So if things weren't going to work out, the Clips would know about it quickly. L.A. is poised to contend for a title as it is, so if the Clips took a risk by signing Beasley to a non-guaranteed contract that doesn't work out, big deal.
They'll be fine either way.