Michael Beasley Wants to Stay Long-Term With Minnesota
Beasley, dealt from Miami to Minnesota last summer, loves his new surroundings. So much that the forward would like to sign a long-term contract extension with the Timberwolves.
"I would love to stay here long-term,'' Beasley said in an interview with FanHouse before Saturday's game at Denver. "Maybe we'll talk about it when the season's over.''
The third-year man is eligible under current collective bargaining rules to sign an extension next summer with Minnesota that would start in 2012-13, although it remains to be seen if anything might change after the CBA expires June 30, 2011. For now, Beasley said he's concentrating on this season. But he did make it clear how much he likes his situation with the Timberwolves.
"I've been playing the same basketball I've been playing my whole life,'' said Beasley, putting up 21.5 points a game this season with the Timberwolves after averaging 14.3 in his two Heat seasons. "It's just being given an opportunity to play more freely. In Miami, I was the third or fourth option ... I was kind of still learning the ways of the NBA. But (in Minnesota) I'm just playing free, just playing my game.''
Miami gave away Beasley last July for next to nothing to clear cap room for the free-agent signings of LeBron James and Chris Bosh and the re-signing of Dwyane Wade. The Heat got cash and a pair of second-round picks in return.
"It did at first,'' Beasley said when asked if he got extra incentive out of being traded for so little. "But, when you look at what they got, it's kind of lopsided. They got three of the best players in the NBA. And I was paid too much ($4.96 million this season). There's really no hard feelings.''
Beasley has fit in well with the young Timberwolves. He's also averaging 6.1 rebounds and has made 21-of-54 three-pointers (38.9 percent).
"It seems like he's more serious, has a defensive attitude a little more,'' said Nuggets coach George Karl. "And offensively he's a one-on-one nightmare a little bit. When you play small on him, he goes inside. When you play big on him, he goes outside.''
Beasley's problems in Miami have been well-chronicled. After being the No. 2 pick in he 2008 draft and averaging 13.9 points as a rookie, Beasley had a summer that included an NBA-mandated stay in a substance abuse program and a bout with depression. Shortly after Beasley arrived in Minnesota, Timberwolves president David Kahn was fined $50,000 and the team fined $50,000 by the NBA for Kahn saying Beasley was "a very young and immature kid who smoked too much marijuana," while in Miami.
Beasley is determined to leave the past behind, saying he doesn't want to discuss his difficulties while with the Heat. Still, he doesn't consider them to have been bad seasons on the court even though some had predicted more immediate success after he averaged 26.2 points in his only Kansas State season of 2007-08.
"I feel like I had a great rookie season,'' said Beasley, who averaged 14.8 points in his second season. "I was playing behind perennial All-Stars like Shawn Marion, Jermaine O'Neal, Dwyane Wade. To average 14 and to be the second-leading scorer on that team as a rookie, I feel like is great. To average (14.3) in two years, I feel like is not bad at all.''
Now, Beasley is averaging 33.4 minutes compared to 27.3 in his first two seasons. He's the leading scorer on the team.
"The only thing different is the weather,'' Beasley said of what it's been like going from Miami to Minneapolis from a city standpoint. "People are just about the same. Fans are the same. We're just not winning as much.''
Winning is something Beasley wants to rectify. As for the weather, he said snow is no problem due to having grown up in Washington, D.C. and going to school for a year in Kansas.
Put it all together and Beasley won't mind at all having a long stint in Minnesota.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson