The Los Angeles Lakers won't turn Michael Beasley's career around overnight if he becomes the newest member of the purple and gold, but it would be a risk worth taking for a team sorely in need of added weapons entering 2014-15.
The former No. 2 overall pick—yes, second overall—in the 2008 draft has posed more questions than answers about himself in stints with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Phoenix Suns and two with the Miami Heat. A player once compared side-by-side with Kevin Durant is now a free agent generating little interest as August wears on.
But one team very much interested in "B-Easy" is the Lakers, ESPNLosAngeles.com's Dave McMenamin reported on July 30. McMenamin's source said of Beasley: "(He) looked very good and he has been working out."
Of course, plenty of time has passed since the workout—indicating that if the sides are in fact still interested, something is holding up a deal.
Basketball Insiders' Steve Kyler elaborated on Twitter:
The risk outside of basketball in bringing in Beasley pretty much goes without saying. His problems started right after entering the league when he was fined $50,000 for sneaking out of a rookie symposium. Beasley is also not a year removed from a marijuana citation, per USA Today, that led to his dismissal from the Suns before last season.
All of those factors obviously make guaranteeing a contract—rather than signing him to a 10-day deal—a tough sell for the Lakers.
But he was the No. 2 pick for a reason, even if he didn't deserve to be. His athleticism and pure talent on the wing is up there with some of the league's better players, he can torment defenders in isolation and—gasp—might even provide somewhat of a veteran presence on the bench unit.
Exonerated after his poor season in Phoenix, Beasley significantly improved last year in Miami. In 55 games, he shot his best field-goal percentage of his career and improved his three-point percentage to .389—up from .313 the year before.
Critics will be quick to note Beasley played his way out of the rotation in Miami. That was also a two-time defending NBA champion bench he was submerged in, with enough veteran role players to operate a Drew League team. Among players he was competing for time with—Shane Battier, Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, and oh yeah, LeBron James.
Let's compare that to whom Beasley would be going up against for time in L.A.
Nick Young is comfortably in the starting lineup at the 3 position. But likely backing him up is Xavier Henry—a natural shooting guard—and Wesley Johnson. Something tells me he cracks that rotation.
Not only can Beasley put the ball in the hoop as well as any of his potential competition at the 3, but he is a worlds-better rebounder to make a valuable impact on a team that finished 25th in rebounding last season (and lost leading rebounder Pau Gasol).
As LakerNation.com's Johnny Navarrette shared, Beasley's numbers alone prove he belongs:
Last year, then-head coach Mike D'Antoni was in extreme need for a player like Beasley to come in and jump-start the offense by himself at times. And although the team seems much better after this offseason, that need will still present itself.
A starting lineup of Jeremy Lin, Kobe Bryant, Young, Carlos Boozer and Jordan Hill won't win you very many games without the right personnel on the bench to carry the team during stretches.
Are Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, Henry and Johnson going to do that against Western Conference powers with championship-level bench units? Not likely.
This isn't to say that Beasley would be the answer to all of L.A.'s problems—or any of them, even. Whether he stays out west or not, the Lakers' bench isn't great and they are more than likely in for another long season.
But with the Lakers' need for bench production and new head coach Byron Scott's reputation as a disciplinarian, signing Beasley may end up being a risk that pays off—even if it's just in the form of eight points and four rebounds a game.