The Phoenix Suns responses to Michael Beasley's transgressions began last year with loud support and vigorous defense.
Now, there is just silence.
When Beasley was signed last summer, former GM Lance Blanks and current PBO Lon Babby spoke in glowing terms of Beasley's potential and how much support he would receive after joining the Suns fold. They brought along a mentor who'd helped Beasley before (Norm Nixon) and promised to give him every chance to succeed.
When Beasley was pulled over two months into the season for speeding in the middle of the night down Scottsdale Road, the Suns responded quickly with a statement (check the StoryStream on the right) and 100% support of their new forward.
When Beasley was reportedly investigated three months ago for sexual assault, the Suns (now sans Beasley's champion Lance Blanks) did not hold a press conference to ask for patience with the troubled star. They said they needed to investigate the facts, and spoke cautiously of his skillset.
Now, when Beasley got himself arrested earlier this month, there is only silence. This time, when pulled over for a routine traffic stop because he was speeding down Scottsdale Road, the cops found pot and arrested him. This time, the Suns did not respond. No statement. No interviews. Three weeks later, still nothing.
This is not a good sign for Mr. Michael Beasley.
The scene is all too familiar for SuperCool Beas, who has burned bridges with two prior teams for these same types of transgressions and runs the risk of doing it a third time right now. The difference between the Suns and the HEAT or Timberwolves is that (a) the Suns have committed a lot more guaranteed salary to Beasley and (b) the Suns just might be his last, best hope.
If the Suns release Beasley, there's no telling what will happen to the young man personally or professionally. Maybe he will turn his life around, maybe he won't. Odds lean to the latter.
The question is not whether the Suns think Beasley has the talent to become an NBA star. The question is just how paternal the Suns feel toward saving a life in the balance.
If the Suns release Beasley sometime in the next week, they would stretch out his payments evenly over the next FIVE years (twice the years remaining on the contract, plus 1). For Beasley, that would be $1.8 million per year.
If they do this to spread out the financial hit, they still have the ability to absorb the whole CAP hit in two seasons while they rebuild ($6 million this year, $3 million next year), freeing money in future years when it's time to spend again.
The only reason to take this option is if the Suns really need to cap room right now. They already have 16 players under contract for 2013-14 season, though Channing Frye might not play and Malcolm Lee might be unavailable as well.
The only reason to release Beasley in the next week is if McDonough can pull another Bledsoe trade out of thin air. If he can acquire a young, up and coming player in the next 7 days while absorbing a bigger contract, then it might be worth releasing Beasley now. But even then, Beasley's hit drops by just $4.2 million, meaning the Suns could not take more than an additional $4.2 million in such a trade.
Short of this kind of deal, I see no reason to release Beasley now. Releasing him now keeps $1.8 million on the books for the next 5 years, when the Suns might just need the cap room at some point in the coming years.
If the Suns want to eat most of the salary paid to Beasley this season, in order to clear the books in the near future, they could decide to release Beasley on or after September 1.
In such a move, Robert Sarver would pay Beasley his full salary this season ($6 million), with the final $3 million being stretched over 3 subsequent seasons ($1 million per year).
Again, the Suns still have the option of absorbing the whole CAP hit over the next two seasons, even though some of the cash is being paid for years beyond.
This option, to me, is the best option overall. Waiting until after September 1 clears the most money the soonest. The Suns cap is already in good shape for the season with 16 guys under contract. The Suns don't need the cap room this year, unless there's an opportunity to do another Bledsoe trade as mentioned above.
It's human nature to want to mentor Beasley and save him from himself.
As Jeff Caplan reports in an NBA.com article, new Suns forward Caron Butler sees how tenuous Beasley's situation really is.
"I think there's a lot that can be done to help him and I think one is, and this is not from the organization or anything, but it's just for the people who are around him and love him most, is just don't give up on him, try to help him as much as possible, build him up because he's a star," Butler told NBA.com during a phone interview from his new home in Phoenix.
"He's a guy that had an unbelievable collegiate career, who came into the NBA as a top-two pick, so the talent is there, it hasn't gone anywhere. It's like clay, it just needs to be molded right. Somebody needs to be around him, talking to him and telling him the right things and building him up and keeping nothing but positive energy around him and moving him forward instead of pulling him back."
The Suns tried the hands-on approach last season to disastrous effect, while former teams have done the same with similar failure.
"For me, with Bease, it's even more heartfelt, because his locker was by mine for so many years," Heat forward Udonis Haslem said this past week when informed of Beasley's latest incident. "And I tried to be as much of a mentor and just guide him in the right direction as much as I could. You know, it's unfortunate and I just wish him the best."
Despite losing his starting role to a still-unproven Beasley in 2009-10, Haslem has remained close to the troubled forward.
"I thought he was past this," Haslem said before a promotional appearance in Boca Raton, "and hopefully it's a bump in the road and he'll continue to move forward and try to get better. I'm looking forward to try to reach out to him in the next couple of days."
"It hurts me, it does," Mourning said from the symposium in New Jersey. "I still look at him as part of this NBA fraternity and a brother. And when something happens to one of us, it's a reflection on all of us, past and present. So there's a disappointment there from that perspective. "Some people get it sooner than others. When I say, 'get it,' I mean the information and support. I can't tell you the conversations I have with young people on a regular basis, in hopes they get it sooner than later."
This list of "mentors" is growing by the year. Mourning. Haslem. Jermaine O'Neal, with the Suns. And now Butler wants a crack at him.
But the Suns have to decide what impact that will have on the rest of the team.
If Channing Frye returns next season, there is a real logjam at the PF position where Beasley would be most effective in the NBA. But if Frye doesn't return, then the Suns could use Beasley as an offensive threat off the bench.
In the locker room and practice, Beasley is not a bad guy. He just has really bad habits that young players could emulate, which could stunt their growth. That's already happened with Marshall and Morrii, who saw the Suns enabling Beasley's behavior for too long.
Still, Caron Butler wants to throw his hat in the ring to help save Beasley. And the Suns have to pay a salary regardless.
It's quite possible we will see Beasley in the new Suns uniform after all.
Michael Beasley promised he'd turned a corner. Apparently, that corner turned into another alley.
Arizona Sports.com dug up this story doing this thing called "reporting". Props to them for the "journalism thang". They acquired the police report of this incident and reported the following:
Suns forward Michael Beasley has run-in with the law ArizonaSports.com
He was cited for driving with a suspended license, driving with excessive speed, driving with expired registration and failure to display a license plate on the rear of the vehicle. Driving with a suspended license and excessive speeding are criminal traffic violations, whereas driving with expired registration and failure to display a license plate are civil traffic violations. The report states the officer placed Beasley in handcuffs and arrested him, but decided to release him at the scene due to his cooperation.
There's more juicy details from the story. For instance, Beasley was packing a loaded .45 caliber pistol in his car but since this is Arizona, that's no big deal. In fact, and this might not be 100 percent correct, but I think you can be cited for driving without a loaded weapon in some parts of the state. Any lawyers out there want to check me on that one?
Another great part of the story was the officer handcuffing Beasley, taking him to the patrol car, and determining that Beasley wouldn't fit in said car so he "cut him a small break" and let Michael walk -- literally, he had to walk since they impounded his ride.
If you are looking for someone to get worked up over this and start talking about Beasley's "character issues" keep on moving down your radio dial. Speeding down Scottsdale at one in the morning is nothing compared to Mark Grace's repeated DUIs, Charles Barkley various issues, or even Jason Richardson speeding around with his young child not in a car seat.
Shame on you, Michael. Get your sh*t together. There, is that harsh enough? It's not like he allegedly committed mortgage fraud and was reportedly under federal investigation.
Oh, and the Suns released this statement:
"We are aware that Scottsdale Police stopped and cited Michael Beasley for motor vehicle infractions at approximately 1:10 a.m. on January 25, 2013. After being briefly detained on-site, he was released. According to the police report, Michael was ‘cooperative' and ‘no impairment was found' following field sobriety tests. We have discussed the matter with Michael and at this time do not believe any further action by the Club is warranted."
Moving on now to Michael Beasley's poor shot selection, inconsistent defense, and other basketball reasons.
It is with sadness that I must impart this news on the Suns world.
The Phoenix Suns today announced that forward Channing Frye will be sidelined indefinitely for medical reasons. Frye has developed a dilated cardiomyopathy, an enlarged heart. The condition was discovered during a screening echocardiogram conducted as part of a routine preseason physical by Suns team cardiologist Dr. Tim Byrne.
Frye will be followed closely by his team of medical specialists. He will not participate in basketball activities and will be re-evaluated in December.
"Nothing is more important to us than the health and well-being of our players," said Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby. "Channing and his family have the full support of our organization. His health is our primary concern and we are committed to helping him in any way he needs."
UPDATE, per Coro: Suns forward Channing Frye told azcentral sports that he will miss the 2012-13 season because of medical concerns.
"The good news is it is a virus so it does have a good chance of going away," Frye said. "My heart can be normal again."
Frye will not participate in any basketball activities and his progress will be re-evaluated in December. He said he would rest for six months, confining his activities to golf and yoga.
I was wondering what was up when Channing tweeted a cryptic message the other day. I guessed he'd had a setback on his shoulder recovery, but unfortunately for all us it's not that simple.
Chuck Hayes had a heart abnormality last year (to which the Kings responded with voiding his free agent contract because the contract was on the condition of passing a physical). Within weeks, he was cleared again to play and signed a new contract. It's quite possible that Frye will follow that same road. I myself was diagnosed with an abnormality last year. I did stress tests and came out with flying colors. But for a few days there, I was nervous. The Kings were nervous enough to void Hayes' contract.
The scary part is that an enlarged heart could be fatal. The Hawks' Jason Collier died in 2005 from what was called a "sudden rhythm disturbance caused by an abnormally enlarged heart."
You are in our thoughts and prayers, Channing. You may be a lot of peoples' punching bag, but you're OUR punching bag. We know what it's like to play without you, Channing, to the tune of missed playoffs the last two years after you went down injured.
Get healthy and come back, Frye guy!