My new Hot Hot Hoops writing partner Reece Helms doesn't think the Miami Heat should give troubled free agent Michael Beasley a second chance here. He makes lots of good points in his argument and I've heard plenty of fans and sportswriters laugh the idea off. Truthfully, it seems like a far-fetched scenario but the more I've thought about it, the more I think it's not such a crazy idea after all.
After so much promise when he was selected #2 overall in the 2008 NBA Draft, the Beasley experiment was cut short just two years later to help create the cap room needed to sign LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Mike Miller while also retaining Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem. The Heat essentially replaced Beasley's salary with Miller's new contract, so it would be quite a twist for the Heat to waive Miller with the amnesty provision only to reunite with Beasley.
But it would have to come with a steep discount, with the Heat so mindful of the luxury tax that they might only keep 13 players under contract to start the season. With his buyout/dismissal from the Phoenix Suns after his latest troubles, Beasley will still collect $7 million of the $9 million that was still owed on his contract so he would perhaps be open to the veteran's minimum. At that price, Beasley at just 24 years old is a great bargain for some scoring punch off the bench. Though he doesn't exactly bring the same complete skill set as Miller did with the Heat, he's still an upgrade over James Jones and the significant luxury tax bill savings can't be ignored now that losing Miller isn't just a hypothetical scenario anymore and is a reality.
Somehow I doubt a championship locker room filled with savvy veterans would be corrupted by Beasley's presence. Now, if you're playing him as one of your first scoring options on an aimless lottery bound team filled with youngsters than yes, it would likely be a toxic combination. But for a chance of redemption, to prove the doubters wrong, and to do it under the guidance of a first class organization like the Heat, then I don't see why Beasley would be a problem on the team. He would have to understand that his role off the bench could mean limited or no minutes on any given night, much like Rashard Lewis or even Miller last season, and certainly no complaints of playing time or his role on the team would be tolerated.
With his old teammates Wade and Haslem there to help out in a familiar setting, in addition to members of the organization who are already very familiar with Beasley such as Alonzo Mourning, I do believe that the Heat represent a stable, nurturing environment for him in the way that no other team could offer. The team has a history of bringing in supposed "problem players" such as Anthony Mason or, yes, Lamar Odom and getting the most out of them. He won't be the 20-10 threat that Heat fans and Pat Riley thought they were getting after the draft, but he's always been fully capable of putting the ball in the hoop and could take some of that scoring pressure off the Big 3.
The talent has always been there but the drive and determination, something that the Heat are so well known for with players like Haslem that embody that culture, has been spotty at best in his first five seasons in the NBA - especially since he left Miami.
Mental mistakes, like arriving too late for a defensive rotation, was perhaps forgivable as a rookie on a team with zero championship aspirations coming off 15 wins the previous season and a reliable veteran in UD to replace him. Those kind of mistakes wouldn't be tolerated anymore, beyond any off-court transgressions of course, but with such a small contract it wouldn't be a huge loss anyway if Beasley ultimately doesn't work out. With so much depth, the Heat obviously don't need to count on Beasley to win but he would still be a nice luxury to have at the end of the bench. It may not be as notable of an acquisition as the Indiana Pacers trading for Luis Scola, but it would come at a fraction of the price.
Beasley had his moments on a team that returned to the playoffs in both of the seasons he was in Miami, but his game could really take off playing with the Big 3 and he would get plenty of open looks and easy baskets paired with LeBron.
Will it happen though? Is there something to Woj's initial report or not? One thing is for sure, the Heat would be wise to at least explore this intriguing option.