After committing $71 million to bring back shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr., giving pleasant surprise point guard Ron Baker a significant raise with their full room exception, and signing 2017 second-round pick Damyean Dotson to a deal topping $1 million for this coming season, the New York Knicks don’t have much remaining financial flexibility with which to add talent. Barring a trade to offload some salary — which, in case you haven’t heard, New York’s working on — the Knicks can only really offer minimum-salaried contracts, like the one that landed veteran point guard Ramon Sessions. It’s tough to land a difference-maker with one of those, especially in August, after the free-agent pool has long since been picked clean.
What you can find sometimes, though, is a potential lottery ticket sitting at the bottom of the bargain bin — say, one who once held enough promise to be the second overall pick in the NBA draft, and who, despite falling short of that lofty mark, has turned himself into a fairly legitimate (and pretty fun) rotation player as he’s aged. Like, I don’t know, maybe …
New York Knicks and former No. 2 overall pick Michael Beasley are nearing agreement on a one-year deal, a league source told @BBallInsiders.
— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) August 8, 2017
Several hours later, sourcing was replaced by signatures:
OFFICIAL: Michael Beasley signs with the #Knicks. More info ⬇️
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) August 8, 2017
That’s right: Michael Beasley is headed to the World’s Most Famous Arena — and for pennies on the dollar, too:
Contract for Michael Beasley would be $2,116,955 equivalent to a minimum with 9 years of service. New York will incur a $1.47M cap hit. https://t.co/9fXS6GlYkX
— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) August 8, 2017
Shandong offered over $3M to re-sign Michael Beasley, but he wanted the Knicks. His NBA net income is less than he'd make in China.
— David Pick (@IAmDPick) August 8, 2017
After putting up buckets in bunches en route to earning Chinese Basketball Association MVP honors during the 2015-16 season, Beasley returned to the States to join the Houston Rockets. He quickly made his presence felt, providing instant scoring and rebounding off the bench for a Houston squad that was sinking under the weight of the decline of the James Harden-Dwight Howard relationship.
Following the loss of starting swingman Khris Middleton to a hamstring injury, the Milwaukee Bucks flipped point guard Tyler Ennis to Houston for Beasley. Once again, he earned his keep as a spark plug off the bench, averaging 9.4 points and 3.4 rebounds in 16.7 minutes per game for the playoff-bound Bucks, shooting 53.2 percent from the field and 41.9 percent from 3-point range.
The 6-foot-9, 235-pound Beasley has never fully blossomed into the sort of dominant force he seemed destined to be during his remarkable freshman season at Kansas State. Rather than serving as a future focal point for the Miami Heat franchise that drafted him, Beasley has stumbled through on- and off-court issues that have resulted in him donning seven different professional jerseys on two continents in nine seasons since leaving campus. Through it all, though, his knack for putting the ball in the hole has held fast, and over the past couple of years, he’s seemed to accept — and thrive in — a role as a reserve scorer who can man either forward spot for stretches.
Beasley’s never been the most attentive or effective defender — that’s putting things very charitably — but getting his scoring at the minimum seems like a solid gamble for a Knicks team that continues to need talent. And, for what it’s worth, concerns that the Knicks might be unnecessarily importing a malcontent are reportedly out of date:
NYK VP player development Craig Robinson's impact on Knicks felt already. He developed relationship w/ Michael Beasley last season w/ Bucks.
— Jeff Zillgitt (@JeffZillgitt) August 8, 2017
He was definitely not a negative in Bucks locker room last season — that comes from Kidd, front office and teammates young and older. https://t.co/NwpZcasd39
— Jeff Zillgitt (@JeffZillgitt) August 8, 2017
The natural inclination, of course, is to read the import of an isolation-favoring, score-first combo forward as an indication that the Knicks are moving toward trading Carmelo Anthony as the time ticks away to training camp next month. At the moment, despite his best efforts to facilitate a move to Texas, Anthony remains a Knick.
Should new Knicks president of basketball operations Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry wind up finding a ‘Melo deal they deem suitable, perhaps Beasley steps into more significant minutes, or even a starting role, on a Knicks team in the midst of rebuilding around Kristaps Porzingis, Willy Hernangomez, Hardaway Jr. and first-round pick Frank Ntilikina.
“He can flat out score — isos along the right baseline,” an NBA scout told Marc Berman of the New York Post. “He could be a perfect replacement for Melo, if he’s traded.”
Even if Anthony does stick around, though, Beasley offers a higher-class offensive option at the forward spots than current New York reserves Kyle O’Quinn, Lance Thomas and Mindaugas Kuzminskas. Whether the role he plays is large or small, Beasley doesn’t figure to meaningfully move the needle in any significant way; the Knicks will not rise or fall on the winds of SuperCoolBeas. But you need dudes on the roster, and it’d be neat if some of them could get buckets, and be interesting while doing it.
It’s like I wrote a little while back: if you can’t be good, you can at least try to be fun. I’m not sure precisely how much fun this Knicks roster can be, but I think it’s likely that particular ceiling will rise a little bit once Beasley puts pen to paper on the tiniest table in the land. It’s not much, but come August, it’s something, anyway.
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