Suns' Michael Beasley Released: Strange Saga Goes from Bad to Worse

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Suns' Michael Beasley Released: Strange Saga Goes from Bad to Worse
Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sport

Michael Beasley was released by the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday, according to NBA.com, a decision that only takes the forward's professional basketball life from bad to worse.

The club saves $2 million by terminating his contract instead of waiving the 24-year-old, who originally signed a three-year, $18 million deal in the summer of 2012. 

The Suns have chosen to part ways with Beasley just a month following his latest arrest stemming from a traffic stop in which an officer found marijuana and paraphernalia in his Mercedes-Benz.

What a long, strange trip it's been for Beasley.

He has made promises, broken promises, come out of AAU and college with promise and has excruciatingly failed to live up to it. Throughout several strange seasons, teammates and coaches have taken exception to his clowning on the court. He has been traded, arrested, fined, checked into rehab and given nine lives, so to speak.

It is not a completely incredulous scenario to arrive out of high school as one of the most touted athletes, run into off-the-court problems and fail to live up to the hype. It is not an unbelievable story for any talented person in any spotlight to face recurrent issues with illicit substances and be viewed as problematic.

No, Beasley's story is not unique; but it doesn't make it any better.

The left-hander was born in Frederick, Md. in 1989, attended six different high schools, played AAU ball alongside Kevin Durant, won the MVP honors at the 2007 McDonald's All-American Game and averaged 28 points and 16 rebounds his senior season (per Yahoo! Sports).

He played one season (2007-08) at Kansas State and averaged 26.2 points, 12.4 boards, 31.5 minutes and shot 53.2 percent from the field (per ESPN). 

The Miami Heat selected him No. 2 overall in the 2008 draft—behind Derrick Rose—and started him in 19 games his rookie season. In 81 games he averaged 13.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 24.8 minutes and a solid 40.7 percent from beyond the arc. The only Heat player to score more that season was Dwyane Wade

But before his rookie season had even reached the winter, his problems with marijuana first surfaced. In September 2008, Beasley was sent home from the NBA Rookie Transition Program (RTP), which ironically teaches first-year players how to adapt to the pressures and scrutiny of professional basketball.

The NBPA (Players Association) explains the program in full:

Created in 1986 as a result of former players expressing their concerns about the need for such a program, RTP is a comprehensive seminar and workshop program designed to teach players techniques to cope with the unique stresses inherent in their lives and how to utilize the various 24/7 resources available to them throughout their careers. Recruiting experts, doctors, current and former players, NBPA and NBA staff participate and share their knowledge and experiences, RTP aims to use creative and captivating means to disseminate key messages.

Apparently the program failed to captivate Michael Beasley or disseminate important messages to him, since the league fined him $50,000 after he, Mario Chalmers and Darrell Arthur were found in a hotel room with two women and a pungent stench.

In 2009, he checked himself in rehabilitation after a Twitter photo led many to speculate about the contents of plastic bags in the background. He had accordingly posted, "Y do I feel like the whole world is against me!!!!!!! Back on my FTW!!!!! I can't win for losin!!!!!!!!!!"

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

In his first season as a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2010-11, he averaged a career high 19.2 points. But in the offseason, he was pulled over for speeding at three in the morning and the officer found 16.2 grams of marijuana in the car.

When Beasley signed with the Suns the following summer, he said that the troubling part of his career was likely to end. In the 2012 press conference, he announced (per ESPN):

I realize 10 minutes of feeling good is not really worth putting my life and my career and my legacy in jeopardy...so I'm confident to say that that part of my career, that part of my life, is over and won't be coming back.

Suffice it to say, that it did not come to end.

It has now bubbled over for the Phoenix Suns, who have shrewdly decided to cut their losses—and hopefully forget the 57 ones accrued over last season as part of their dead-last finish in the Western Conference.

The organization, which recently split with its former GM in an effort to begin rebuilding, could ill-afford any more negative light shone on its issues both on and off the hardwood.

After the third-year peak of his short career, Beasley had begun to decline on the court as well. He suffered nearly an eight-point drop-off in 47 games in 2011-12, averaging just 11.5 points. He played 75 games last season but only scored 10.1 per game.

He also repeatedly looked lackadaisical and sluggish last season—descriptive keywords that have not been completely separated from Beasley throughout his career.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

This move is probably the best for a new-look Suns team and organization with general manager Ryan McDonough now running the show.

And, as ESPN's Marc Stein reports, there is some other good news—at least financially—in Phoenix: "The Suns' recent trade of Caron Butler to Milwaukee created nearly $6 million in salary-cap space that they can use to soften the financial hit stemming from Beasley's departure."

Although the future is unclear at the moment for Michael Beasley, his saga has certainly just gone from bad to much worse.

 

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