Michael Beasley

Enes Kanter: I told Knicks teammate, if you fight, I’ll pay fine

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The Knicks trailed the Trail Blazers by 26 in the fourth quarter last night.

But New York center Enes Kanter, on the bench with a back injury, had a solution.

Kanter, via Ian Begley of ESPN:

“I’m not going to tell who, but I told somebody, ‘Hey man, go out there and fight with somebody. It will get the energy up.” No, I’m serious. If you go out there and just hit somebody or just fight with somebody, get a technical foul, I will pay for the fine, I don’t care. Just go out there and do your thing. Because we need that energy, we need that fight. It doesn’t matter if we’re down by 25, a fight, get a technical foul, the crowd is in it, and they’re gonna get nervous.”

Midway through the fourth quarter, Knicks forward Michael Beasley started an altercation by forearming Jusuf Nurkic in the chin. Frank Ntilikina then pushed a held-back Nurkic.

This is comical on a couple levels:

1. Kanter spent all of last season riding for Russell Westbrook, but when Warriors center Zaza Pachulia laid out the Thunder star and stood over him, Kanter did nothing. Essentially paying a teammate to fight only increases Kanter’s reputation as a faux tough guy.

2. The Knicks were on a 14-1 run when Beasley tried to agitate Nurkic. A lengthy review to determine the penalty – technical fouls for Beasley and Ntilikina – killed momentum, and the resulting free throws gave Portland three points. New York never seriously challenged again in a 103-91 loss.

Michael Beasley: “Talent-wise, I match up with Kevin [Durant], LeBron”

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Michael Beasley has never lacked for confidence.

The No. 2 pick in the 2008 draft also never lacked for a scoring touch, and that gets you a lot of chances in the NBA. Beasley has had his share of off the court problems — actually, his share and a couple other players’ shares as well — but he is trying to move on from that. He was solid in the games he played for the Bucks last season, and now he will get the chance in New York to take the next step — he told Yaron Weitzman if the Bleacher Report he just needs an opportunity he felt he hasn’t had in the past.

He said that in about the most Beasley way possible.

“[It’s] mostly perception. As far as talent-wise, I match up with Kevin [Durant], LeBron, I match up with the best guys in the world,” Beasley says. “I’m not being cocky; it’s just always how I felt. But I got into trouble as soon as I got into the NBA, and it left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths.”

The off-the-court issues certainly limited interest and opportunities in the past, but no, he’s not on those guys level. We could discuss defense or playmaking differences, but that would be just stating the obvious.

The reality is Beasley has had opportunities before, but he didn’t take advantage of them. He’s said before he was a changed man, and he wasn’t. However, his ability to get buckets got him another chance with Milwaukee last season, and he was good enough and changed enough that New York came calling. Now he gets an opportunity to take the next step.

It’s on Beasley to live up to his words now. Not the “as good as Durant and LeBron” words, but just being a quality NBA rotation player the Knicks can lean on would be a big start.

Three questions the Milwaukee Bucks must answer this season

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The NBC/ProBasketballTalk season previews will ask the questions each of the 30 NBA teams must answer this season to make their season a success. We are looking at one team a day until the start of the season, and it begins with a look back at the team’s offseason moves.

Last season: 42-40, lost to Toronto in first round of playoffs

I know what you did last summer:
The Bucks mostly chilled on the beach last summer and did nothing. They let Michael Beasley go and waived Spencer Hawes. They brought in Gerald Green, Sterling Brown, and D.J. Wilson. Milwaukee basically returns with the same core roster as last season.

THREE QUESTIONS THE BUCKS MUST ANSWER:

1) Can Giannis Antetokounmpo make the leap from star to MVP level, transcendent talent? Last season the Greek Freak made the leap from nice player to star, maybe superstar level. He led the Bucks and had career highs in points (22.9), rebounds (8.8), assists (5.4), steals (1.6), and blocks (1.9). He got to the rim (dunking almost 200 times last season, some of them genuinely spectacular) and with that shot 52.1 percent overall. Combine that with him being a good “free safety” style of defender and you have a guy who deserved to be an All-Star and second team All-NBA.

The Bucks this season are banking on continuity and internal improvements to take the next step forward, and Antetokounmpo is at the top of the list.

Amazingly, there is so much room for Antetokounmpo to improve, and if he does he can live up to Kobe Bryant’s challenge to win MVP. The most discussed thing is his shooting, he hit just 27.2 percent from three last season and is not much better on long twos beyond 16 feet. This seems to be less a mechanics thing and more a confidence thing — Antetokounmpo knows he can almost always get to the rim and so he trusts that over his jumper. He needs to just fire away at times. Also, part of it is on Jason Kidd and the coaching staff, who coach a little bit of an old school system, and while the Bucks improved last season they were 24th in the league in threes attempted.

Beyond that, Antetokounmpo can be better reading the floor and making plays coming off the pick-and-roll, he can be better in post-ups, he can be better in isolation — he gets his buckets and assists by just taking what the defense gives him and then getting to the rim. He can start to force his will on the defense even more so, and when he does there is not much of a chance to stop him.

2) Can Thon Maker and Malcolm Brogdon take steps forward? As noted above, the Bucks did not make big moves last offseason, nor do they have the space to do it next offseason, this is a team looking for it’s core to improve to help them up the ladder. Having a healthy Kris Middleton all season as the glue guy on this team is huge and will help. So will getting Jabari Parker back from another ACL injury, but that will be late in the season (and he likely will take a bit to be his old self).

The two guys the Bucks really need to take a step forward are Thon Maker and Malcolm Brogdon. By the end of the playoff series against the Raptors last season both these guys were starting — and Milwaukee outscored Toronto when they were on the court together. Neither of these guys project to be future All-Stars, not even the Rookie of the Year Brogdon, but if both can be quality, consistent starters the Bucks will have something.

Maker, in particular, can be a real threat as a mobile 7-footer who can shoot the three (and reportedly he worked on his shot this off-season). He’s never going to be a strong, physical post player (the Bucks have Greg Monroe for that, and he’s solid in that role) but he can be a modern NBA big, he just needs to be more consistent as a playmaker and not just a shooter. The Bucks need more firepower and shot creation, especially with Jabari Parker out

3) Can the Bucks become a good defensive team? More than anything, this is the biggest question for Milwaukee if it is going to take a step forward. The Bucks were 19th in the NBA defensively last season, allowing 106.4 points per 100 possessions. For a team with a roster full of quality individual defenders, guys who are long and athletic, that is not good enough.

This is about Jason Kidd as the coach. He has his guys playing an aggressive, gambling system that opens up good shots for teams that can move the ball, particularly corner threes (and most teams want corner threes and have guys who can knock them down). The Bucks double just about everyone in the post, then they don’t get there fast enough in rotations. All of this played out against Toronto in the playoffs. In the first three games, the Raptors — who are isolation heavy with Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan — played a style that allowed the Bucks aggressive tendencies to work. But once the Raptors adjusted, moved the ball better out of doubles, the Bucks had no answers.

The Bucks should be aggressive — they should use that athleticism to create turnovers, but there needs to be a more disciplined, smarter underpinning that doesn’t leave the team exposed when the ball moves a little.

If the Bucks are top 10 in the NBA in defense — and they have the talent to do it — then they will take a step forward. If not, they will not, and Kidd will have questions to answer from a new front office (remember there seemed to be a movement against him from part of ownership last season, his job is not completely stable).

Michael Beasley on college basketball scandal: “you guys are just catching on”

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Michael Beasley was a highly recruited high school basketball player out of Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass., who went on to play his college ball at the Kansas State then eventually became the No. 2 pick in the 2008 NBA Draft.

He’s been the focus of recruiting battles, not unlike the ones that have taken down Rick Pitino at Louisville and led to former NBA Rookie of the Year Chuck Person being arrested.

Is this a massive scandal or just business as usual in college sports? Beasley told reporters more of the latter. He told the USA Today that reporters and prosecutors are just starting to catch on — and said college players should get paid.

“Man, you guys are just catching on. And that’s all I gotta say….

“My jerseys. They sell my jerseys. Not just me but what about Kentucky and Anthony Davis. USC and O.J. Mayo. Western Kentucky and Courtney Lee. We bring a lot to these schools and we can’t even park in front of the arenas for games. They still make us, as freshmen, park two parking lots away from the dorm rooms in the freezing cold. So do I think that guys need to be compensated for their work? Yes. Because most of us don’t make it to this level. A lot of us don’t make it to the professional level, let alone the NBA. So I do think guys should be getting paid. The NCAA is making billions: not just off basketball but off football and soccer – by the way, golf players get paid. Tennis players get paid. There are athletes getting paid at the college level. We’re just not one of them.”

For the record, Beasley said he did not get paid to go to K-State.

Also, for the record, pretty much every sports fan knows this goes on as common practice, we just turn a blind eye.

College basketball is a massive business built on a model of free labor, Beasley is right about that. Schools and the NCAA, make big money — and that’s not to mention universities luring donors to the university and stoking alumni — and while the players do get a free education (those that take advantage of it), that cost is a fraction of what the teams bring in. The NCAA’s efforts at amateurism create a black market that has shoe companies funneling money to players and coaches to get a recruit to Louisville (or has Louisville assistant coaches hiring strippers to “entertain” guys on recruiting visits). Don’t make the mistake of just singling out Louisville or Adidas schools, this is widespread. And it goes on in college football, too.

That said, I’d be shocked if we see players get paid in our lifetime. There would be too much pushback from the universities, not to mention people whose minds are stuck in the 1950s. Plus, there are a lot of questions that go with it — college softball players put in long hours and travel for their sport and to represent the university, should they be compensated as well? If so, how much? And we can go on down the line of college sports.

 

Report: Knicks signing Michael Beasley

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Just in case they actually trade Carmelo Anthony after months of starts and stops, the Knicks have already found a high-volume, isolation-heavy, one-dimensional scoring forward to replace him:

Michael Beasley.

Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders:

New York is down to minimum-salary offers, and that’s probably all Beasley can command at this point, anyway.

The 28-year-old is a curious fit on a team supposedly focused on developing young players. Maybe this is a sign that new/old president Steve Mills’ talk of patience was just lip service, following a long succession of Knicks executives.

But Beasley might just be too good to pass up for the minimum. He was an effective scorer for the Bucks last season, justifying his gunning role and shortcomings elsewhere with above-average efficiency. Beasley got into the paint frequently and finished well, made his mid-range jumpers and even converted his 3-pointers at an impressive clip (though in a small, selected, sample). He could have decent trade value in the likely event the Knicks should be selling before the trade deadline.

The former No. 2 pick has run into trouble throughout his career, and now he’s heading to a huge market to join one of the NBA’s more dysfunctional franchises. There are potential pitfalls here (and plenty of jokes to be made). But there’s a solid chance this works out – which is about all you can ask for a minimum-salary player.