Michael Beasley to the Heat, no real risk for no real reward


Nov. 17, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) and Phoenix Sun forward Michael Beasley (0) react on the court in the first half at US Airways Center. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Nearly five years after he was first drafted second overall by the Miami Heat as a means of salvation for the drowning franchise, the prodigal son has returned to help fulfill all the promise he once had to help bring a title back to South Beach.

Okay, so maybe that’s being a tad hyperbolic. Michael Beasley, as was reported first by Yahoo! Sports, has signed a non-guareenteed deal with the Miami Heat that could potentially pay up to $1.027 million. Beasley was bought out of his hefty $9 million contract with the Suns earlier this month due to a horrendous first season in Phoenix and a recent drug possession charge that the Suns are claiming to be the final straw. This seems to be the definition of a low risk, high reward move by Miami. But is it really?

These types of buy-low moves usually occur within three different templates. The first is the player who, through injury or otherwise, never truly received the opportunity to manifest his skills in the league but who’s talent is still there for the mining, think Greg Oden. The second is a player for whom time has already passed him by but still has the capacity to employ singular marketable skills, like a Rashard Lewis or Chris Anderson. The final player is one who’s tangible talent extends only so far as his one time draft position, someone who rides that lottery number to as many teams hoping to be the ones to “fix” them as they can. This is the category that yields the least amount of success stories, and it happens to be the one Michael Beasley finds himself in.

Forgetting everything Beasley did before he entered the league (five years is more than enough of a sample size to erase whatever meaning his Kansas State days initially held) and focusing on the type of player he is at this exact moment in time is the only real way to evaluate him. Beasley is a position-less wing, who doesn’t play defense, and whose greatest offensive skill amounts to creating low-effecient shots he shoots frequently, but rarely makes. This is a player that posted the eight worst single season win share since 1946 last season and is a poor fit on any team, let alone a title contender.

But let’s be optimistic, as we too often tend to be with former high lottery picks. Let’s assume that not only does Beasley turn his life around off the court but he also fixes his work ethic and re-achieves the heights his talents took him in his best season as a pro. That season would be his 2010-11 campaign in Minnesota were he posted 19.1 points per game on 17.1 shots. That version of Beasley is still positon-less and is still a sieve on defense but it’s one were he can at least mitigate his lower efficiency with greater pure production. Defense-deficient volume scorers have a place in the league, even on championship contending teams, like the Clippers with Jamal Crawford.

But that type of player has no place on the Heat, a team who already employs three extremely high volume players who all go about getting their production in infinitely more efficient ways than Beasley. Miami only surrounds their big three with shooters, bigs, and occasionally Norris Cole, and Michael Beasley happens to be none of those things. Beasley is harmless without the ball in his hands, something he will be 95 percent of the time in the Heat’s offense, and a black hole when it is, which renders him useless in Miami’s free-flowing system.

The only use I can fathom for Beasley would be a stop-gap or, in apocalyptic scenarios, a replacement for an injured Wade, someone who can at least put a dent in the production needed to make up the difference in Wade’s hypothetical absence. But if that is truly the situation Miami finds itself in, they are probably screwed from the start, and would be better off just handing the full reigns to LeBron by surrounding him with shooters (a scenario where Beasley, once again, has zero place in).

This move has no downside. The contract is unguaranteed (presumably till December) and the $1.027 million is a drop in a giant, luxury tax filled bucket to Miami regardless. But there really ins’t any upside either. And that’s $1.027 million you are throwing away on a project whose ceiling probably doesn’t come close to becoming a contributing player, even as an emergency backup. The team has deep pockets but there is only so many funds you can allocate for your roster and every dollar you put into a toxic asset is one you can’t spend on a better one.

Wouldn’t the $1.027 million be better spent on a player that fits within the first two templates? Or better yet, on a D-Leaguer whose pedigree may not be as enticing as a former second round pick, but who’s capacity to serve as a usable player may be much higher.