The Los Angeles Lakers are currently on the outskirts from the start of training camp, and there are still a couple of spots open on the roster.
This leaves room for speculation on who the Lakers could add with training camp fast approaching. One name that has been circulating around lately is free agent veteran forward Michael Beasley. The 25-year-old has already worked out for Los Angeles twice this offseason and has most recently held a workout session with the San Antonio Spurs.
Since being selected with the second overall pick in the 2008 draft by the Miami Heat, Beasley has failed to live up to the lofty expectations he set in his lone season at Kansas State. He has bounced around the league playing for the Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves and Phoenix Suns. Beasley made his return to Miami last season in a role as a reserve averaging just 7.9 points and 3.1 rebounds in 15.1 minutes in 55 games played.
Along with struggling to play with any consistency since joining the league, he has also had multiple 0ff-the-court issues that have largely been a reason why he has a well-traveled NBA career up to this point. That said, he did show progress in maturity with the Heat last season, despite playing in a limited role with the team.
With all this in mind, where does the Lakers’ interest in Beasley stem from?
Yes, Beasley has been wildly inconsistent at times and has shown a lack of maturity, but that does not take away from the talent that he possesses. Through all his ups and downs in the NBA, let’s not forget that he is averaging 13.2 points and 4.9 rebounds per game for his career.
This includes averaging a career-best 19.2 points in his first season with the Timberwolves in the 2010-11 campaign, which ranked him inside the top 20 in scoring that year. Beasley was also able to notch a career-best 42 points during that same season. Although this type of production from him came three seasons ago, it still shows that he can be a potent offensive threat on the court.
Outside of his offensive potential, another area that draws concern is on defense. Beasley has been, at times, a defensive liability for his team throughout his six-year career. This coupled with his maturity issues have attributed to his struggles to getting sufficient playing time, and have led to him to the point to where he is now an unrestricted free agent still unsigned with the start of training camp just a few days away.
This is not to forget his not-so-successful return back to Miami last season, where it was thought that he would be able to etch out of a significant role with the team given their thin bench. The exact opposite happened as he had averaged a career-worst 15.1 minutes per game, while also sitting out 27 games in which he was often times placed as inactive.
Despite all this pointing in the direction of the Lakers passing on Beasley, it would not be surprising to see the team take a chance on him. Los Angeles is no stranger to this idea as they signed a couple of former high draft picks last season in Wesley Johnson and Xavier Henry. His addition would also help solidify the team’s small forward position that currently has Johnson and Nick Young as the only ideal players to play the spot.
Of course, it helps that the team could sign him at the veteran’s minimum. The Lakers would take only a minor financial hit if he did not pan out. Beasley, at this point in his career, is looking to prove himself as a player worthy of a guaranteed roster spot and significant playing time. This means that the Lakers would be getting a player that is highly motivated to show that he is belongs in the NBA.
Does that sound familiar?
Well it should because that was the case with Young last season with the Lakers as he signed a deal at the veteran’s minimum of $1.2 million per season. He was able to then prove that he not only belongs in the NBA, but also that he was worth a long-term lucrative contract.
Last season, Young was one of the league’s most productive reserves as he averaged 18.8 points, which put him first in the NBA for points per game among players who have come off the bench in 20 or more games. He also led the Lakers in scoring with 17.9 points per game and toppled 40 points twice.
There would also be an opportunity for him to play under Byron Scott, who is known as a tough-nosed head coach that does not tolerate anything less than complete effort on both ends of the floor. Although Beasley didn’t exactly excel playing for Erik Spolestra last season, a change of scenery and a different coaching style might be what he needs to help turn his career around.
Yes, there are plenty of ifs and buts that must happen for Beasley to be a great addition to the team, but the reward outweighs the risk.
Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Bob Garcia IV
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