It’s no surprise, considering how well he has played, but Michael Beasley’s third stint with the Heat has been extended.
The team and Beasley agreed to a new 10-day contract Sunday, according to his agent Jared Karnes. After this contract is up, the Heat must sign him for the remainder of the season (which seems likely) or release him.
Not only is Beasley scoring (10.5 points on 44.6 percent shooting) and helping facilitate Miami’s offense, but he’s also defending with great effort, including Saturday’s game when he played some center and defended Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins as the backline of a zone defense.
“He stepped out of his comfort zone and was fantastic in that zone,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I feel very comfortable with Mike. We have gotten to know each other extremely well over the years. We felt it was a no-brainer [to sign him]. We’ve been running the majority of our offense through him, ala Chris Bosh. He’s a close facsimile in our system.”
Spoelstra said Beasley’s growth has been “incremental. He’s shown great strides in his competitiveness, technique, consistency.”
Spoelstra said “there have been a lot of people to get him to this point,” and Beasley said his experience playing in China earlier this season benefited him off the court.
Operating at a 25-pound weight disadvantage against Cousins, Beasley said he was elbowed in the face three times during Saturday’s again.
During timeouts, Spoelstra gave Beasley lessons on the Heat’s zone defense, which worked well Saturday night but is seldom used by Miami.
“I played a little [center] in college,” Beasley said. “It was cool.”
With all the injuries, “We’re showing perseverance,” Beasley said. “We’re literally giving everything we have.”
Luol Deng (calf), Goran Dragic (tailbone), Hassan Whiteside (ankle) and Udonis Haslem (assorted injuries) are all questionable for Monday’s game against Boston.
The Heat closed Saturday’s game with only eight healthy players. Haslem started the game but couldn’t start the second half.
“This group is showing some grit,” Spoelstra said. “They’re not feeling sorry for themselves. They’re not making excuses. [Saturday] it looked bleak” before the Heat rallied from a 16-point third quarter deficit to beat Sacramento in overtime.
Spoelstra said he “gave the proverbial game ball to all those guys that played. Guys were giving literally their bodies to the team. We’re a banged up crew right now.”
Said Dwyane Wade: “We are fighters. We have been unlucky this season with injuries. There are a lot of nights this season that don’t make sense.”
▪ Spoelstra said he went to a zone in the second half Saturday because “we had four guys in foul trouble. I had no bigs. UD couldn’t play in the second half. We were forced to make some kind of drastic decision to keep our guys out of foul trouble.”
Meanwhile, undrafted rookie Tyler Johnson continues to emerge. He had 24 points, six rebounds and six assists in 44 minutes Saturday.
“If you look up the word grit, you would probably see Tyler’s picture along with a few other guys on that team,” Spoelstra said. “He has earned everything he has gotten in his life.”