Michael Beasley is back.
In an unlikely full circle, the player the Heat dumped to make room for LeBron James and Chris Bosh will now likely join those players and Dwyane Wade to help Miami in its run at a third consecutive NBA championship. Beasley agreed to a one-year, nonguaranteed deal with Miami after recently being released by the Phoenix Suns. He was arrested for possession of marijuana in Scottsdale, Ariz., in August.
Beasley, now 24 years old, has been linked to marijuana at every stop in his NBA career and his colorful history with the Heat is well documented. But at such a bargain, the team decided giving the inconsistent forward one more shot couldn’t hurt. With the league’s highly punitive luxury-tax system kicking in after this season, the Heat has gone with reclamation projects to fill out its roster and add depth.
Beasley is just the latest example.
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“Michael had the best years of his career with us,” Heat president Pat Riley said. “We feel that he can help us.”
And, if it doesn’t work out, the Heat can simply cut Beasley at any point, including during training camp. A third strike would most likely be the last for Beasley in the NBA.
Strike Two came last week when the Suns waived Beasley after negotiating a contract settlement with the Heat’s former No.2 overall pick. In effect, the Suns paid Beasley $7 million to go away.
This summer, Phoenix’s management had a meeting with Beasley to discuss a new direction for his career — straight up, or else. Then, on Aug. 6, Beasley was pulled over in suburban Scottsdale and, after a search of his car, police found three marijuana cigarettes.
“The Suns were devoted to Michael Beasley’s success in Phoenix,” Suns president Lon Babby said in a statement Sept. 3. “However, it is essential that we demand the highest standards of personal and professional conduct as we develop a championship culture.
“Today’s action reflects our commitment to those standards.”
The general manager who signed Beasley to the Suns, Lance Banks, was fired after last season. Banks and the Suns made signing Beasley a priority before the 2012-13 season. He then had the worst season of his career, averaging career lows in points (10.1) and rebounds (3.8).
Beasley was ticketed in suburban Minneapolis for speeding and possession of marijuana in 2011 while playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves. He acknowledged smoking marijuana while playing for the Heat and was involved in an embarrassing incident with Heat guard Mario Chalmers at the rookie camp in 2008. In 2009, he spent time in a rehab facility.
A highly rated recruit out of Kansas State, Beasley was to be a cornerstone of the Heat’s post-Shaquille O’Neal rebuilding effort. Instead, he was traded to the Timberwolves in 2010 to clear cap space for the Heat to sign James and Bosh, and re-sign Wade.
The Heat found success last season with Chris Andersen, a player who was looking for a second chance, and the team is hoping its support structure and leadership within the locker room can have the same positive effect on Beasley.
In his best and final season with the Heat (2009-10), Beasley averaged 14.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.
Beasley is expected to be the 14th player on the Heat’s opening-night roster, leaving only one roster spot up for grabs during training camp, which begins Oct. 1.