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Ball Don't Lie

The Phoenix Suns have a Michael Beasley problem, and ignoring it is helping it go away

Kelly Dwyer
Ball Don't Lie

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Michael Beasley won't be back. (Getty Images)

Of course, Michael Beasley has always been a problem for the Phoenix Suns. Like, right from the outset – when he missed seven of nine shots on his way to eight points in his Suns debut. Or when he needed 18 shots to score 16 points two days later. Or when he taunted Phoenix by actually hitting over half of his shots on a 22-point night, that every-third-game cruelty, while the Suns lost by 21 to the team that would end up with the NBA’s worst record.

The problems continued as the year moved along, a season that saw Beasley play terrible defense and barely contribute in any other areas, needing 10.2 shots per game to score 10.1 points per game. The former power forward shot more three-pointers per minute than he did free throws, perhaps due to goblins, and most damningly was stupidly caught going 71 miles per hour in a 45 zone, while driving without a license.

Beasley is currently under investigation for sexual assault. Earlier this month, he was arrested for marijuana possession, some four years after becoming the first pro athlete we’d ever heard of to go to marijuana rehab, and two years after his last arrest for pot.

The Suns’ response to this? Not a word. Not a damn word. From Bob Young and AZCentral:

More than two weeks have passed since Suns forward Michael Beasley was arrested by Scottsdale police on suspicion of possessing marijuana, and the silence coming from US Airways Center is deafening.

The Suns still have not addressed what they plan to do with Beasley or even acknowledged his latest troubles, which came on the heels of a report that Scottsdale police are investigating a sexual-assault allegation against Beasley.

Messages left Tuesday with Managing Partner Robert Sarver, President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby and General Manager Ryan McDonough went unanswered.

Young, in talking with former Suns general manager Steve Kerr, points to the fact that Beasley is one of several frustrating carry-overs left from the disastrous regime of former Suns GM Lance Blanks.

It’s true that Sarver and Babby both hired and signed off on Blanks’ personnel moves, but this was his show, sadly. In McDonough they have an executive that is far more capable of understanding talent on an advanced level, and knowing when to dole out contracts. Perhaps maybe passing on handing $31.5 million combined to Luis Scola (a fine, efficient player; just out of step with his younger teammates) and Beasley to join what should have been a rebuilding team, as Blanks did in 2012.

This is why the Suns are likely to use the “stretch provision,” yet another option amongst several the NBA handed owners like Robert Sarver, who consistently sign off on contracts they later regret, all while claiming hardship.

If the Suns waive Beasley by Sept. 1, they could string out the $9 million owed on the final two years of his contract ($12 million, technically, but Beasley’s final year at $6 million is only guaranteed for half that amount) over five years in terms of both payroll checks sent Beasley’s way, and hits to the team’s salary cap. That would seem like an appealing option, yet another chance to take a bad Sarver signing off the books at a minimal per-year cost.

Or, because the Suns’ payroll setup is quite tidy at the moment, the team could choose to just waive Beasley outright and take the full payroll and salary cap hit over the next two years. The Suns are under the salary cap right now, and projected to be well under it in 2014-15. Perhaps it’s better to pay Beasley the full amount during the rebuilding years, instead of letting a $1.8 million Beasley cap hit act as a detriment when it comes time to sign free agents some three or four years from now.

The Suns have a little while to figure this out. And until then, with the eyes of the sporting nation fixated on goal posts and fantasy football rosters, don’t expect the Suns to make a peep until then.

Michael Beasley, at age 24, also has a while to figure this out. Don’t expect him to be doing it on an NBA roster, though. At least not with a team that has any idea what it’s doing.

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