Heat, Timberwolves finalize Beasley trade
MINNEAPOLIS – Michael Beasley’s off-the-court issues were well-documented. So were his on-the-court talents.
In the end, Minnesota Timberwolves president David Kahn felt the latter far outweighed the former.
The Timberwolves and Heat completed their trade Monday, sending Beasley north to Minnesota for two second-round picks and cash considerations.
“We had to do this,” Kahn said Monday night in a conference call from Las Vegas, where the Timberwolves are playing in the summer league. “It just made too much sense.”
The Heat made the move to clear cap room to re-sign Dwyane Wade and bring in Chris Bosh and LeBron James. The Heat get Minnesota’s second-round picks in 2011 and 2014.
Beasley was a much-celebrated No. 2 overall selection in 2008, getting edged out by Derrick Rose for the top spot in the draft after a brilliant freshman season at Kansas State. But he never seemed to be completely comfortable playing in the shadow of Wade in Miami during a two-year stint that was marred by two rocky offseasons, first when he was kicked out of the NBA rookie symposium and fined for rulebreaking, then last summer when he received substance-abuse treatment in Houston.
Kahn said the Timberwolves did plenty of homework on Beasley to make sure they were bringing the right kind of player into a very young locker room that currently is devoid of veteran leadership. But he also stressed that the team performs that kind of due diligence for any player it is scouting, not just one with Beasley’s baggage.
“He’s 21. That’s the thing that sometimes gets lost in this,” Kahn said. “These kids are all so young and to be thrust into this kind of world is a lot for anybody.”
And for all the issues that he has seemingly dealt with in his short career, Beasley has still shown the potential to be an impact player.
“We felt Michael had two very good years in Miami,” Heat president Pat Riley said in a statement issued by the team. “We feel he will have a very productive career, and wish him nothing but the best as he moves on.”
With their stunning additions of both Bosh and Wade, Riley simply didn’t have a choice but to move Beasley, who is under contract for $4.9 million this season with a team option for roughly $6.2 million next year, so he could bring in both Olympians and have more room to sign a supporting cast.
The trade also helped Miami to sign forward Udonis Haslem to a five-year deal on Monday.
Beasley averaged 14.8 points and 6.4 rebounds for the Heat last season, starting all 78 games he played. He topped 25 points in a game seven times and could give the Timberwolves the kind of explosive offensive player they will sorely need if Al Jefferson is indeed traded.
“There should be still a tremendous amount of upside there,” Kahn said of Beasley. “We like his versatility and his athleticism. If we do trade Al, he provides some comfort there is some scoring punch in case that occurs.”
The Timberwolves also completed the contract for center Darko Milicic and signed rookies Wesley Johnson and Lazar Hayward.
Kahn said he has received a lot of phone calls about Jefferson, who was averaging 23 points and 11 rebounds before injuring his knee in February 2009. He made strides in his comeback last year for the 15-win Wolves, who feel that Beasley and Kevin Love are better fits for their up-tempo offense.
“There’s a lot of interest right now in Al because most of the major free agents, if not all of the major free agents are signed,” Kahn said.
Kahn said the logjam at power forward did not make trading Jefferson a necessity, but it’s clear that the team would prefer to move him and his three-year, $42 million contract to open up more time for Beasley and Love up front.
Kahn had breakfast with Jefferson on Saturday and has been open about the process with the cornerstone of the package the Wolves received from Boston for Kevin Garnett in 2007.
“I told him I admired him for his professionalism,” Kahn said. “I hope it isn’t awkward. I told him we would do what’s best for him and best for us.”
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