The Heat signed free-agent forward Michael Beasley on Wednesday, reuniting the No. 2 pick in the 2008 draft with the team that selected him. The Sun-Sentinel reported that Beasley will be invited to training camp on a non-guaranteed, veteran's minimum contract.
"Michael had the best years of his career with us," Heat president Pat Riley said in a statement. "We feel that he can help."
Beasley, 24, spent the first two seasons of his career in Miami before he was traded to Minnesota in 2010, as the Heat cleared the decks so that they could acquire LeBron James and Chris Bosh. A 2009 All-Rookie First Team selection, Beasley averaged 13.9 points and 5.4 rebounds in his first season. He followed that up with averages of 14.8 points and 6.4 rebounds in his second season.
The Heat are in a unique position to take a chance on a player with Beasley's laundry list of off-court problems: They know him personally and worked with him extensively during his first two seasons; they don't really need his contributions, making him fully expendable if trouble pops up again; they boast a veteran-dominated, championship locker room with plenty of personalities to look out for him; and they need all the minimum-salary contributors they can find, given their position above the luxury-tax line. The safe assumption is that Beasley will face a "one strike and you're out" reality.
As he should be. Beasley's off-court behavior, though, has often gotten more attention than is on-court ability. Indeed, it has been a long and rocky road since Beasley was taken directly after Derrick Rose in 2008, 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 also spent time in a substance abuse treatment center in 2009 before the Heat traded him.
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.
After two seasons in Minnesota, Beasley signed with the Suns in 2012 and 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 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.”
Instead, his legal problems continued. In addition to his marijuana arrestd, it was reported 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.
“We have high standards for all of our players,” Suns GM Ryan McDonough, who was hired earlier this summer, said in a statement announcing Beasley's release. “We expect them to represent the team and the community in a positive manner both on and off the court.”
Suns president Lon Babby added: “The Suns were devoted to Michael Beasley’s success in Phoenix. However, it is essential that we demand the highest standards of personal and professional conduct as we develop a championship culture.”
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.
He was waived by the Suns less than 14 months after he signed a three-year, $18 million contract with the Suns, and he was set to make $6 million in 2013-14 and $6.3 million in 2014-15, although only $3 million was guaranteed in that final year. 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. Miami has just 13 guaranteed contracts on its books, meaning Beasley should get a legitimate chance to make the team. He will join Greg Oden, the injury-riddled No. 1 pick in 2007, as Heat reclamation projects this fall.