5 NBA Teams That Should Take a Chance on Signing Michael Beasley
In 2008, Michael Beasley was the No. 2 pick in the NBA draft, taken ahead of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love. Just six years later, he's a free agent on the fringe of being out of the league altogether.
We've been here before. If a team signs Beasley this summer, it will be his second, maybe even third, last chance.
The year before, Beasley was introduced as a member of the Phoenix Suns and said he was done with marijuana and ready to grow up, according to the Associated Press (via 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 part of my career, that part of my life, is over and won't be coming back.
I've really realized my potential. I've really realized what I can do.
Just 14 months later, the Suns waived Beasley, even with two seasons left on the three-year, $18 million deal he signed with Phoenix.
Fast forward back to 2014, where Beasley remains unsigned after two months of free agency have passed. He's worked out with the Los Angeles Lakers, but there's still no offer on the table.
Based on basketball alone, Beasley could help L.A. as well as a handful of the other teams.
He's a solid scorer, averaging 19.2 points per 36 minutes during his career, and has the size (6'9") and outside shot (38.9 percent from three last season) to play some stretch 4.
The problem is the timeline above.
If some team is willing to take a gamble on that history, it may find itself with a talented offensive player who can add some punch to the second unit.
The most an organization would lose is somewhere around the worth of a minimum contract. Even with all the warnings from the past, he's a low-risk, high-reward free agent.
The following teams could use his offense for a variety of reasons that will be explored within each slide.
At his most recent stop, Beasley averaged career lows in points, rebounds and assists. But on the bright side, he avoided the off-court issues that plagued him in the past.
What kept him on the bench in Miami was a struggle to learn the defensive scheme. And it's the same reason he likely won't be back. From Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald:
A person with direct knowledge cited several reasons for the Heat's lack of interest: Inconsistency, lack of trust in his defense (and ability to execute the Heat's defensive system), and maturity/focus issues, which are still a concern even though he improved somewhat in that regard last season.
With a year under his belt, picking up the system could be easier for Beasley this season. Plus, Miami just lost LeBron James' 27.1 points per game and could use a scorer who could replace some of that.
If Miami lets Beasley walk and he fulfills his potential elsewhere, the organization could end up regretting it.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers are loaded with talent at just about every position but small forward. And they just dropped one of last season's regulars there.
After trading Jared Dudley for Carlos Delfino and Miroslav Raduljica, and subsequently releasing the incoming Milwaukee Bucks, the Clippers have some roster spots to fill.
The Clippers waived newly acquired players Carlos Delfino and Miroslav Raduljica on Friday and will pay their remaining salaries over five years via the NBA’s stretch provision.
The move will create about $3.5 million under the hard salary cap and allow the Clippers to sign additional players to veteran’s minimum contracts. The team currently has 11 players under contract for next season, two below the league minimum.
Plugging Beasley into one of those two slots makes sense for the Clippers. They may be a high-scoring team already, but they got very little production out of their 3s in 2013-14.
According to HoopsStats.com, Los Angeles was 28th in points from small forwards, putting up just 15.3 per game. Beasley would immediately improve that, giving Chris Paul one more target to pass to and making the Clippers an even more difficult matchup.
It wouldn't be hard to argue that the Indiana Pacers have had the worst offseason of any team in the league.
Paul George and Lance Stephenson were first and second on the team in scoring and first and fourth in win shares. Both are gone for 2014-15, with George suffering a freak injury and Stephenson lost in free agency.
Rodney Stuckey and C.J. Miles, who figure to make up the new duo on the wings, weren't close to being as productive last season.
Chris Copeland could see some of the minutes available on the perimeter, but Indiana could definitely still use some more depth.
Beasley would likely face the same problem with the Pacers that he did in Miami, an inability to get on the floor because of struggles on D. But playing in a lineup with George Hill, David West and Roy Hibbert could do a lot to hide Beasley's deficiencies.
Only two teams scored fewer points from the small forward position than the Clippers. The Memphis Grizzlies were one of those squads.
Last season's starting 3, Tayshaun Prince, is 34 years old and looked terribly outmatched against younger competition. His field-goal percentage of 40.7 and three-point percentage of 29 were both career lows. His scoring average of six was the worst since his rookie campaign.
Memphis could desperately use an infusion of younger talent at the position, particularly in the form of someone who can score.
In 2013-14, the Grizzlies ranked 27th in points per game at 96.1. Beasley could improve that by giving Mike Conley an option on the break and making it harder for opposing defenses to double-team Zach Randolph in the post.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers represent Beasley's best shot to play in the league in 2014-15. From Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times:
Free-agent forward Michael Beasley worked out this week for the Lakers for the second time...
Prior to trading Derek Fisher for Jordan Hill in 2012, the Lakers were close to acquiring Beasley from the Minnesota Timberwolves. Though Beasley is a gifted scorer, he has yet to find a long-term home in the league.
Could Los Angeles be that home?
While Bryant is a historically excellent scorer who's averaging above 25 points per game during his illustrious career, he's also 36 years old and coming off multiple major injuries. Recovering his athleticism—to its full extent, at least—will be rather difficult, and he'll still be the subject of massive quantities of defensive attention.
...the Lakers have to surround him with players who can relieve some of the scoring burden. And if there's any area in which Beasley can shoulder some responsibility, it's that one. Especially because he's a natural small forward, something that's hard to find on the Los Angeles roster.
Based on talent alone, a wing combination of Bryant and Beasley could be a nightmare to defend, even with Bryant advancing in years.
With Bryant's post game and Beasley's outside shooting, the duo could invert opposing defenses, moving players out of position and opening things up for the rest of the roster.