The Suns announced Tuesday the release of forward Michael Beasley, who spent just one troubled season in Phoenix.
Beasley, 24, was waived less than 14 months after he signed a three-year, $18 million contract with the Suns. He was set to make $6 million in 2013-14 and $6.3 million in 2014-15, although only $3 million was guaranteed. In a statement, the Suns said they had reached a "termination agreement" with Beasley that "reduced" the compensation owed to Beasley and "increased" the team's salary cap space over the next two seasons. The Associated Press reports that the agreement will cost the Suns $7 million.
It appears that a series of off-court incidents finally caught up to Beasley, the No. 2 pick in the 2008 draft, even though he promised to reform his behavior when he arrived in the desert last summer.
“The Suns were devoted to Michael Beasley’s success in Phoenix,” Suns president Lon Babby said in a statement. “However, it is essential that we demand the highest standards of personal and professional conduct as we develop a championship culture. Today’s action reflects our commitment to those standards. The timing and nature of this, and all of our transactions, are based on the judgment of our Basketball leadership as to how best to achieve our singular goal of rebuilding an elite team.”
Beasley was arrested for marijuana possession in August, which marked the third time during his tenure in Phoenix that he had found himself in hot water. In May, it was reported that Beasley was under investigation for an alleged sexual assault. (Beasley has not been charged but the case is still open, according to the Arizona Republic.) In February, news broke that Beasley was cited on Jan. 25 for multiple driving violations for driving 71 mph in a 45-mph zone at 1:10 a.m. in a Mercedes that did not have a license plate. Beasley was driving on a suspended license and a loaded gun was found in the vehicle. Suns management did not discipline Beasley after the incident.
“We have high standards for all of our players,” Suns GM Ryan McDonough, who was hired earlier this summer, said in a statement. “We expect them to represent the team and the community in a positive manner both on and off the court.”
It has been a long and rocky road since Beasley was the No. 2 pick in the 2008 draft after earning Big 12 Player of the Year honors during his one season at Kansas State. Before playing his first game for the Heat, Beasley was fined $50,000 for his role in a marijuana-related incident at the Rookie Transition Program. He spent time in a substance abuse treatment center in 2009 before the Heat traded him to the Timberwolves after just two seasons.
Upon acquiring Beasley, then Timberwolves president David Kahn called him "a very young and immature kid who smoked too much marijuana" before he arrived in Minnesota. Beasley was later pulled over for speeding and cited for marijuana possession by Minnesota police during the 2011 lockout. He also shoved a fan in the face during a lockout exhibition game in New York and sued his former AAU coach, alleging that he had received improper benefits during his one season at Kansas State.
When he was introduced by then Suns GM Lance Blanks last summer, Beasley claimed that he was a changed man.
"I realize 10 minutes of feeling good is not really worth putting my life and my career and my legacy in jeopardy," Beasley said, according to the Associated Press. "I'm confident to say that part of my career, that part of my life, is over and won't be coming back."
Beasley averaged 10.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists while shooting 40.5 percent for the Suns, who finished 25-57, the worst record in the Western Conference.