Will the Lakers be in the Michael Beasley sweepstakes?

September, 3, 2013
9/03/13
2:35
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Michael Beasley was waived by the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday, putting the talented, yet troubled, 6-10, 235-pound former No. 2 pick on the market.

With the Los Angeles Lakers lacking a proven small forward on their roster after using the amnesty clause on Metta World Peace, it's only natural to wonder if Beasley might be a good fit in purple and gold.

Here are four questions to consider before that can happen:

1. What is the waiver process for Beasley?

Beasley was owed $6 million by Phoenix in 2013-14 and $6.25 million in 2014-15, but only $3 million of his '14-15 deal was guaranteed. Beasley agreed to a $7 million buyout with the Suns, according to Sports 620 KTAR in Phoenix. If any team out there chooses to claim the remaining $7 million on his contract, they'll retain Beasley's rights. That's unlikely to happen.

The way this usually works is a player clears the 48-hour waiver process and then the bids come in, with teams free to use their mid-level, mini mid-level or biannual exception to try to entice Beasley to come on board. The Lakers do not have any of those exceptions available to them. They used their entire mini mid-level exception on Chris Kaman and do not qualify for the biannual exception because of their luxury tax situation, so all they could offer Beasley is a veteran's minimum deal worth approximately $1 million.

There is a chance that a team like Philadelphia, which has not yet met the minimum salary requirement for the 2013-14 season could take on his full salary to meet that basement level, but Philly could just wait to sign other free agents to account for the approximately $10 million in salary it has to acquire without bringing in someone like Beasley with his off-court background into its young, impressionable locker room.

2. Will the Lakers be interested in Beasley?

As one source familiar with the Lakers thinking said, "There's a reason why Phoenix cut him." Even though Beasley is just 24 years old and has career averages of 14.1 points and 5.2 rebounds in just 26.4 minutes per game, it was his arrest on suspicion of marijuana possession in August that seemed to be what ultimately pushed Phoenix to go in another direction.

However, Beasley had off-court issues before this summer and that didn't stop the Lakers from pushing hard to get him in the 2011-12 season. Twice that season, the Lakers thought it had deals in place to acquire the lefty forward from Minnesota, and twice those deals fell through, the second time just seven minutes removed from the trade deadline.

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak has shown in recent seasons that once a player catches his interest, that impression doesn't fade easily. Kupchak said that the Lakers had designs on acquiring Steve Blake for years stemming from an great pre-draft workout with the team in 2003. They finally got Blake in 2011. The same goes for Nick Young. Kupchak came close to getting Young for years before having it all come together this summer.

3. Should the Lakers want Beasley?

In a word, yes. Even though the team made some savvy pick-ups with potential in Young, Wes Johnson and Elias Harris to try to fill the void at small forward left by World Peace, none of them are proven players at that position. And yes, Kobe Bryant is just about as good at playing the three as he is at the two at this stage of his career with all the post moves he's developed, but Bryant's health for this season is still very much in question.

Getting Beasley at the minimum for 2013-14 would not only allow the team to keep the financial flexibility for next summer that it so covets, but it would give Mike D'Antoni another offensive weapon to work with. This is a guy who has a career high of 42 points, a guy who once put up 22 points and 15 rebounds in a playoff game, a guy who has a 34.5 percent career mark from 3, but has shot 36.6 percent or better from deep in three out of his five career seasons.

Don't discount the appeal of Beasley's ability to shoot it, either. The Lakers drafted Ryan Kelly in the second round primarily for his ability to stretch the floor with his long-range accuracy, but the team has been discouraged by the rookie's progress during the summer, according to multiple league sources. The Lakers doubt that Kelly, who missed summer league while recovering from multiple foot procedures, will be ready for the start of training camp.

Beasley could fill out a couple check marks of what the Lakers are looking for.

4. Should Beasley want the Lakers?

This answer isn't as straight forward. While Beasley has already made approximately $25.9 million in his time in the NBA, according to BasketballReference.com, he did have to agree to give up a guaranteed $2 million over two years in the Phoenix buyout. He could make that money back and then some by signing with a team that offers him the mini mid-level exception of $3.2 million. If he signs with the Lakers for the minimum, he loses $1 million. That might seem insignificant when you've already made $26 million, but $1 million is $1 million, especially for a player whose future in the league is far from certain.

So, financially maybe the Lakers aren't the best fit for Beasley.

However, style of play wise, L.A. could be perfect for him. Not only are D'Antoni's open-court sets suited for his game, but Beasley had his best season as a professional while coached by Lakers assistant Kurt Rambis when he was the head coach in Minnesota in 2010-11.

Not only that, but the Lakers have had success in recent seasons in salvaging guys' careers who were rich in talent, but poor in opportunity (think Shannon Brown, Trevor Ariza, Jordan Hill, Earl Clark).

And the opportunity should be plentiful in L.A. at small forward.

Dave McMenamin

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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POINTS
Nick Young
PTS AST STL MIN
17.9 1.5 0.7 28.3
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsP. Gasol 9.7
AssistsK. Marshall 8.8
StealsJ. Meeks 1.4
BlocksP. Gasol 1.5