Remember Beasley? The guy who was second only to Derrick Rose in the 2008 draft and was once compared to current greats such as Kevin Durant, among others? The guy who has been nothing short of a high-upside gamble by three different teams, a number that seems ready to swell to four?
To be more specific, the Lakers might just be that fourth club. According to ESPNLosAngeles.com's Dave McMenamin, the staff had Beasley in for a workout recently, and at least one person says the former Kansas State star looked solid enough:
The Los Angeles Lakers are considering signing free-agent forward Michael Beasley and brought in the six-year veteran for a workout at their El Segundo, California, practice facility Wednesday, according to multiple sources.
"[Beasley] looked very good and he has been working out," one source said. "A tiny rust from layoff, but [he] did a good job."
Not exactly a shocker there.
Beasley has all the talent in the world, but a string of off-court issues—which began with a stumbling block at the rookie symposium and ended with an alleged irritation of LeBron James himself, per Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe—cast a cloud of doubt around whether or not he can ever actually realize that immense ceiling despite being just 25 years old.
There are two very important sides to the biggest question about a Beasley-Lakers marriage—how in the world does he fit?
One side is the mental aspect, or chemistry. Nobody would be silly enough to suggest that Beasley is beyond saving, especially at his age. But the man has been somewhat nonchalant about his on-court career to date and seemingly more focused on all of the wrong things that come along with it.
He was drafted by Miami, given shots in Minnesota and Phoenix, and then he went back to Miami and contended for a title while under the watchful eye of James, Dwyane Wade and others. But there have been few accounts of him actually turning a corner.
As ProBasketballTalk.com's Brett Pollakoff puts it, there needs to be a strong core in place in order to get Beasley to actually focus on the task at hand:
But again, on a minimum salary deal, there are teams that will take a long hard look at Beasley next season. They’ll need to have a strong system in place with veteran players that have control of the locker room in order for him to have a chance to succeed, but in the right situation, a team will convince itself that they can be the ones to unlock all that potential, and get him to focus for an entire NBA season.
Fans can argue day and night about whether or not Kobe Bryant has what it takes. Sure, he seems the right man for the job, but if James could not do it, the odds seem unlikely.
The good thing about Bryant and veterans such as Boozer being around, though, is that they will at a minimum prevent any chemistry issues. To be blunt, Beasley is a low-risk option and entirely expendable.
Obviously, the other side of the coin is on the court itself.
Look, the roster is mostly a bunch of misfits as general manager Mitch Kupchak aims for free agency next offseason. Beasley fits right in given the criteria, but playing time is another conversation entirely.
The man is an elite scorer as he connects on 34.8 percent of his shots from long range and shot 52.2 percent on isolation plays last season, per Synergy Sports (subscription required). But he is a joke on the defensive end of the court, although that does not seem to be a detriment in Los Angeles with Bryant and Nick Young as starters.
But it should be in regard to Beasley's playing time. The Lakers have Boozer, Julius Randle, Ryan Kelly and Ed Davis all capable of soaking up minutes at the 4, and his inability to play defense is a nightmare waiting to happen if he is asked to guard small forwards at the 3 every night.
Not only that, Beasley's fit at the 3 does not make a whole lot of sense with Young, Wesley Johnson and Xavier Henry on the roster.
Los Angeles would provide a great opportunity for Beasley. It's a huge market. It's a franchise in shambles in need of a savior. The list goes on, but it seems that he wants to see a guarantee that he will have ample playing time, as Basketball Insiders' Steve Kyler points out:
Whether he gets the cash remains to be seen, but to his credit, Beasley can surely win more minutes through sound performances. He is more talented than any player the team has at the 4, so if the Lakers want to win—Bryant surely does—he may very well force his way into the lineup.
The Lakers are an organization not accustomed to going through rebuilding years. Even a slight down year typically results in a big trade or free-agency splash and things go back to playoff mode.
Not this time.
The unfamiliarity with such a predicament shows in the construction of the current roster. Adding Beasley to the mix only compounds the issue, but there is no question it would be a smart gamble on the minuscule chance he turns a corner and explodes into the elite player we know he can be.
First, he actually has to put ink to paper.