The Miami Heat have invited Michael Beasley to their training camp with a non-guaranteed, one-year deal on the line for the much-maligned, but talented free agent power forward.
The former No. 2 overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, Beasley has had several run-ins with the law, including a sexual assault charge back in January that he his still under investigation for, and several citations for marijuana over the years. Beasley and the Phoenix Suns came to terms on a buy-out agreement last week, which made the 24-year-old a free agent. He played in 75 games for Phoenix last year, averaging 10.1 points and 3.8 rebounds on 40 percent shooting from the floor.
Coming off their second straight NBA championship, the Heat have used their limited cap space to snag oft-injured former No. 1 pick Greg Oden this offseason, and now Beasley.
Taken after Derrick Rose in 2008, Beasley was regarded by some scouts as one of the most complete, NBA-ready players to enter the league in years. Blessed with a 6-foot-9, 200-pound frame and elite quickness, the Heat drafted Beasley and he averaged 14.3 points and 5.8 rebounds over two years alongside Dwyane Wade.
But before taking the court for the Heat, Beasley and two other players were kicked out of the NBA's rookie transition program in 2008 when two women were discovered in their hotel rooms, and security smelled marijuana. Beasley initially refused to cooperate during the investigation and the league fined him $50,000. Later in August 2009, Beasley reportedly checked in to a Houston rehabilitation center for "stress-related" issues.
Miami eventually shipped Beasley out to the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2010 for cash, and two second round draft picks. A slim haul that suggests the Heat had given up on Beasley’s potential.
Former Minnesota team president David Kahn said in an interview that Beasley’s time in Miami was marred because he “smoked too much marijuana.” Kahn was fined $50,000 for his comments as the details surrounding a player’s alleged use of drugs and discipline handed down by the NBA are kept confidential.
Reports came out last weekend that Miami was sniffing around Beasley, including several beat writers saying it was unlikely Heat president Pat Riley would give him another chance.
The Heat have won two titles despite a very thin bench, especially in the frontcourt. Miami is already on the hook for more than $80 million in salary next season, so finding cheap alternatives in free agency has been a priority. Beasley’s troubles away from the court have driven his market value way down, not to mention dwindled the number of teams willing to take a chance.
However, a team loaded with veterans and leaders, including reigning MVP LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and two-time champion Ray Allen, could finally draw the best out of Beasley.
Assuming he’s in shape, Beasley’s touch around the basket and from within 15-feet gives Miami head Erik Spoelstra the option of a stretch-four off the bench, who can give James and Chris Bosh rest throughout the regular season.