Last summer, Michael Beasley was signed by the Knicks to provide a scoring boost off the bench. Given the makeup of the roster at the time, one would have expected him to serve as a complementary piece on a fringe playoff squad. The forward joined the fold under the assumption that he’d be sharing court-time with Carmelo Anthony.
Oh, how much has changed.
But luckily for Beasley, Anthony’s sudden departure opened up an unique opportunity. Injuries to both Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr. over the course of the campaign led to Beasley often being relied upon as the next line of offense…quite literally. He started 30 games and rewarded New York for instilling the type of faith in him that he’s craved for years as a professional.
Receiving the chance to shoulder important, quality minutes, Beasley averaged 13.2 points, his most since the 2010-11 season. His 51% shooting from the field was a career-high, minus 52% from a twenty NBA game stint during the 2015-16 campaign. His 78% conversion from the free-throw line was his best mark since 2009-10, and his 5.6 rebounds were his most since 2010-11.
All in all, one could argue this was a career-year for the 28 year old.
The Knicks signed him to serve as a stop-gap player during a transitional year. Now that he’s demonstrated his value, should the organization be the one that rewards him for his efforts?
According to the New York Post, up to five teams (including the Hawks and Suns) will be interested in acquiring the free agent-to-be’s services. After earning the veteran’s minimum last season and facing various ups and downs during his career, Beasley’s time to cash in is now.
In order to retain him, the Knicks will need to eat into (or use completely) their midlevel exception at $8.6 million. Here’s why they should: Beasley’s maturity should be rewarded. He’s come a long way and ironically enough, could serve as a role model for younger teammates trying to carve out their own paths. He’s made mistakes, but has since righted the ship. There’s value in embracing someone like that. What’s more, he’s seemingly bought into the type of culture Steve Mills and Scott Perry are attempting to create.
Beasley undoubtedly has the production to back it up. He still makes questionable decisions on the defensive end, but when he finds a rhythm, he’s one of the league’s better scorers. While Kristaps Porzingis sits out the early months of the season due to injury, Beasley can shoulder the load and provide fans with some excitement in the meantime.
Building continuity is important. The organization should want to reward players who find success in New York while embracing the city’s bright lights. Beasley’s not the perfect player, but it would say a lot about this front office if they recognized that the pros outweigh the cons at this point. There’s a need for minutes and Beasley is someone who wants to be in New York. The same can’t be said for many of the league’s other talented free agents.
Beasley played for new head coach David Fizdale when the latter was an assistant coach with the Heat. That could be a blessing or a curse, considering Beasley’s early career turbulence took place in Miami. Still, if the new coach was someone who recognized his early potential, he may be able to scratch the surface even further now that Beasley’s entering a new phase of his career.
Perhaps the forward’s tenure in the Big Apple is just getting started.