It is without question that the San Antonio Spurs are, arguably, still the top dogs in the Western Conference. Instead of changing up their roster, they have, essentially, kept everyone from their championship run. Duncan and Ginobli opted in. Parker got an extension. Patty Mills re-signed. They are a team that does not necessarily need anyone else, which is why it is intriguing that the NBA champions would give Michael Beasley a chance. While there is not much of an advantage for the Spurs bringing the troubled forward in, San Antonio, realistically, could serve as the best and final option for Michael Beasley.
It may have been six years ago, but there was a time when Beasley was looked at as one of the top prospects in the NBA. The year was 2008, and the forward was the second overall pick in the draft that year for a reason. During his one year at Kansas State, Beasley was a beast, averaging 26.2 ppg, 12.4 rpg, 1.6 bpg and 1.3 spg. He had all the potential in the world. At the same time though, the forward came into the league with a troubled past.
Beasley’s problems were evident ever since his high school days, when he was forced to attend six high schools over a five-year span due to his behavioral problems. While he was not the model citizen in college, he did manage to keep his head above water, by allowing most to focus on his playing. Unfortunately, almost immediately after he was drafted by the Miami Heat, he found himself in controversy. In early September of that year, Beasley, along with Mario Chalmers and Darrell Arthur, caused a fire alarm to be set off. When officers visited the room, according to authorities, it carried a heavy sent of marijuana. It would be the first of many incidents Beasley would have with the drug.
While the forward put up decent numbers his rookie season, averaging 13.9 ppg, his rebounding abilities plummeted compared to his college game, averaging 5.4 rpg. Despite his decent play, his problems with drugs continued during the following summer, when Beasley checked himself into rehab. While he showed signs of improvement during his second season with Miami, the organization decided it was best to part with the troublesome forward by trading him to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Upon his arrival in Minnesota, Beasley stated how it was a new beginning for him. He kept to his promise during the first season there, when he had his best season, averaging 19.2 ppg and 5.6 rpg. He appeared to be on the road to recovery, but unfortunately, the following summer, in June, he was pulled over due to speeding, where he was found with a bag of marijuana. To make matters worse, during that summer, he inserted himself into a confrontation with a fan, where Beasley pushed the fan back in the face. Worse yet is the fact that Beasley had a terrible season his second year in Minnesota, when he averaged only 11.5 ppg and 3.8 rpg, while seeing a decreased number of minutes.
Once again in 2012, despite the plethora of problems that came with Beasley, the Phoenix Suns signed him to a three-year deal worth $18 million. He also struggled in Phoenix, where his production decreased yet again to 10.1 ppg and 3.1 rpg. Not surprisingly, his legal issues continued to play a role, as he was caught speeding yet again in January of 2013, only this time, he had a loaded gun in the vehicle. In May of that year, the forward would be investigated for a sexual assault charge. His troubles continued in August of last year, when once again he was pulled over due to a traffic violation, only to find marijuana in the vehicle. As a result, despite having a long guaranteed contract, Phoenix released Beasley.
Despite all his problems, the Heat brought him back last September. While the troubled player, mostly, kept his nose clean off the court, he did not impress Miami officials, particularly LeBron James and coach Erik Spoelstra. Due to the underwhelming response and the lack of playing time in the playoffs, the Heat passed on keeping him for the 2014-2015 season.
Coming into this offseason, Beasley’s professional future did not look good. No matter where he goes, he tends to keep getting himself in trouble. What makes his situation worse is that his production, whether related to his off-court issues or not, continues to decline. It would be one thing if someone of Beasley’s past discretions had a lot of worth on the court. In this case, his worth is not equal to the risk that comes attached to him.
All signs point to Beasley’s career being over, until it was announced that the troubled forward will be working out with the Spurs. Beasley coming to the defending champions is an intriguing situation. While the champs do not need him to succeed, this could, possibly, be the thing that matures his mindset. While he has the advantage of being on a championship team, that is not what will help him. After all, last season, Miami was a contender and it did not help his case.
What very well could change the future of Beasley is the culture of the Spurs. It is not news that coach Gregg Popovich is, arguably, one of the best coaches in the game. He is more than just a coach though. Popovich cares about the well-being and character of his players. For instance, during past political debates, he has made the team, collectively, watch, in hopes they learn something and form their own opinions. He also has been known to ensure his players continue to educate themselves, through reading materials.
Most importantly though, is the fact that Popovich has rarely had a troubled player on his team. Off the court problems have never, for the most part, been an issue among past San Antonio rosters. Additionally, in-game, only Utah, Minnesota, and Washington had fewer technicals throughout the season. As such, he knows how to keep his players’ attitudes away from the court.
While Popovich manages his players better than any other, it does not guarantee a turnaround for Beasley. In fact, while Popovich has helped the maturity process with a plethora of players, he also does not have much patience for immaturity. With that, Beasley, if accepted on the squad, will have to be careful as to not terminate his chances of playing on the roster too soon. However, the San Antonio Spurs remain as the only, and, quite possibly, best option for Michael Beasley. The question remains though, as to whether or not the troubled forward will be able to bounce back from an, arguably, disappointing career.
Commentary by Simon Mounsey