4-on-4: Filling in the holes of the Michael Beasley saga

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With the Phoenix Suns having shed themselves of Michael Beasley, questions remain. How could this have happened? More importantly is the road ahead and what the move means for both the Suns and the troubled forward. I shot four questions at Michael Schwartz, Ryan Weisert and Dave Dulberg and also answered them myself. We tackle the issues from macro and micro perspectives.

1. Finish the sentence: Michael Beasley’s time in Phoenix was _____.

Michael Schwartz: … what we should have expected. It was easy to get blinded by Lance Blanks’ optimism and Beasley’s tantalizing talent. Yet he continued to make the same immature decisions off the court and played the same inefficient basketball on the court. We should be wondering why the Suns thought they could be the franchise that could get through to him.

Ryan Weisert: … irrelevant. The Beasley contract was the final move of failing regime. His departure is yet another step in the right direction for a franchise which should be back to full-time relevancy again soon. Beasley’s time in the desert will be forgotten by the time the Suns stop paying him.

Dave Dulberg: … eventful but unnecessary. Beasley’s one year in the Valley was defined by everything he did off the court. For all the hairstyles, strange comments to the media, head-scratching shot attempts and arrests, he offered no value to a franchise that would have been better served without his services.

Kevin Zimmerman: … worse than ever expected. Beasley had problems before, but after addressing his past in his introductory press conference it appeared that, worst-case, Beasley would only have to figure out how to be successful on the court. By the end of it, Beasley’s off-court life went into a tailspin and his on-court performance regressed.

2. What’s the bigger deal in the Suns buying Beasley out? Ridding the franchise of a problem child who could have hurt the building of a new culture, or the financial impact in the coming years?

Schwartz: The financial impact is a sunk cost because the Suns would have paid this salary anyway, in fact it would have been $2 million more without the buyout. The impact beyond this year is minimal, yet the Suns had to rid themselves of this problem child to make a statement that this behavior won’t be tolerated by the new regime.

Weisert: The top priority for the Suns’ new coach and new GM has been culture change. Ryan McDonough wants to prove that Phoenix is the most financially savvy team in the NBA. Coach Hornacek wants a roster where players earn time with hard work and dedication. The Beasley move furthers both of those goals.

Dulberg: A little bit of both. Beasley would have been the fourth-highest paid player on the Suns’ roster going into 2013-14. And although his contract wasn’t exactly burdensome, the allure of future cap relief had to have been just as powerful as the allure of getting ride of a mistake.

Zimmerman: While the Suns won’t put up with players getting into trouble, the buyout really does align with McDonough’s slash-and-burn policy since he’s arrived. It’s a valid argument to wonder if the Suns would have pulled off this move if Beasley had been on his best behavior, as Schwartz pointed out in Tuesday’s Google Hangout.

3. Let’s pretend you’re a general manager in the NBA. What do you think is the most important thing learned — about the Suns or the league overall — after watching the whole Beasley saga?

Schwartz: It’s easy to think a player will be different in your supportive environment, but players often are who they are, to paraphrase Dennis Green. When two organizations don’t want anything to do with a guy, he probably shouldn’t be at the top of your free agent priority list.

Weisert: Knuckleheads need structure. Michael Beasley is undeniably talented. But his talent could only be realized in a system where he respects his coach and organization enough to make the right decisions on and off the court. With all due respect to Alvin Gentry, the Suns were not that type of organization.

Dulberg: A zebra can’t change its stripes. People love sports because of that redemption factor. It makes for a nice story when it happens, but those occurrences are few and far between. Everyone wants to be the one to turn a troubled athlete’s career around, but it has to start with the athlete. Michael Beasley hasn’t gotten that message yet.

Zimmerman: Don’t get duped. As much as it appeared that Lance Blanks twisted the arms of fans and media into believing Beasley was ready to start fresh, it wouldn’t be fair to not point out that Beasley likely sold himself as a new man to the Phoenix front office when they visited him.

4. If you had to choose a landing spot for Beasley, what would be ideal for him? Anywhere in the NBA or overseas is fair game.

Schwartz: Right now, China. He can take as many shots as he wants and finally become the star that he never became in the States. Plus, I’m not sure if any NBA teams would gamble with him at this point in the summer.

Weisert: If Beasley had one elite skill like rebounding or 3-point shooting, then some NBA team would definitely sign him to a minimum deal. But he doesn’t. He’s a jack of all trades and master of none. I think he’ll follow in the footsteps of other eccentric former NBA players and head to China.

Dulberg To take a buyout with the Suns, Beasley has to believe he has a payday somewhere else — whether it’s in the NBA or overseas. I see him ending up with the Los Angeles Lakers. For a team that could use more punch of its bench, why not Beasley? He averaged 17.2 points per game against them in 2013-13.

Zimmerman: I’m not sure it’s viable at all for Beasley to land on the Oklahoma City Thunder because of their tight roster position, but for the sake of the forward turning himself around, I think it’d be great for Beasley to shadow friend Kevin Durant. And I could see Durant being willing to babysit Beasley until he finds some success.

And 1

  • Randy Hill of FoxSportsArizona.com spoke with an NBA scout about Beasley’s issues on the court. As expected most of them have to do with his focus that cuts in and out throughout games.
  • Tom Ziller of SB Nation gives a good argument for more incentive-based contracts in the NBA, using Beasley as a prime example of the need.
  • Channing Frye told BrightSide’s Kris Habbas that he has been cleared to play by all of the doctors he’s seen. It’s yet to become official news because the Suns continue to do their homework in making sure Frye is healthy enough to return.
  • We’ll have some notes later tonight on the Eurobasket 2013 event that kicks off today. Goran Dragic, Marcin Gortat and Slava Kravtsov are all in action to begin group play.
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