Only two years after Michael Beasley was drafted with the 2nd overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, the Miami Heat had trouble giving him away. Eventually, the Heat managed to unload Beasley on the Minnesota Timberwolves, but they only got two second-round picks in exchange for the former Kansas State star.
Why has Beasley been such a flop over his first two pro seasons? Is it because he’s a tweener, stuck between the three and the four? Is it because he’s never shown any particular interest in playing defense? Is it because he’s never extended his range to the NBA three-point line or committed himself to being a low-post player?
All of those are possible reasons why Beasley hasn’t lived up to his billing as a top-two pick yet. But for what it’s worth, Beasley’s new general manager thinks that the first step to Beasley’s turnaround has already been taken.
In an interview with ESPN 1500 Twin Cities, David Kahn explained that Beasley’s marijuana habit held him back in the early stage of his career. Beasley never formally admitted to smoking weed, but there was widespread speculation about his drug use after he was caught on film near marijuana not once but twice
before he started his sophomore season. Now Beasley has assured Kahn that he doesn’t smoke anymore, which makes Kahn optimistic about Beasley’s future:
“He’s a very young and immature kid who smoked too much marijuana and has told me that he’s not smoking anymore, and I told him that I would trust him as long as that was the case,” Kahn said Thursday during an interview with 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
“He has developed a really good support system around him this past season in Miami. He’s hired people to help him grow up. He is growing up — he’s not grown up. He’s 21 … and he just turned 21 last January, and if you think back, as I do all the time, to when I was 21 and if you had given me this kind of money and put me in this kind of world with these kinds of pressures attached to it and some of the demands, I don’t know (that) I would have handled it any easier than, say, he has.”
Kahn went on to say that Beasley had a “very issue-free” season in Miami, and that he felt that trading Beasley for two second-round draft picks was a risk well worth taking. Beasley’s immaturity certainly didn’t help him over the course of his first two years in the league; if he really has turned a new leaf off the court, perhaps he’ll start to live up to his potential on it.
After winning the Eastern Conference the last eight years, LeBron James leaving the Cavaliers for the Lakers has created a power vacuum in the East.
The Celtics, Bucks, Wizards and Pistons have staked their claims as teams ready to fill the void. The Raptors announced themselves with their trade for Kawhi Leonard.
But 76ers forward Ben Simmons isn’t ready to put Philadelphia atop the Eastern Conference hierarchy.
Simmons, via James McKern of SportingNews:
“We’ve got to get past Boston, those are the guys at the top right now. Beating them, that’s our next goal,” Simmons said.
“Obviously getting further than the second round and winning the Eastern Conference Finals and then moving on to the Finals.
This is a surprisingly restrained approach by Simmons. Many of his peers are talking bigger.
But the 76ers belong behind the Celtics, who beat Philadelphia in the second round last year. The 76ers could pass Boston. They just must prove it. In the meantime, Simmons is paying the Celtics proper deference.
Don’t forget about Toronto, though. Though Boston and Philadelphia were poised to own this next era in the East, Leonard reinvigorates the Raptors. If he’s healthy, they belong at the top with the Celtics.
Pistons big Jon Leuer underwent meniscus surgery, leaving plenty of doubt about his availability for next season.
Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:
After losing Anthony Tolliver in free agency (to the Timberwolves), Detroit needs Leuer as a stretch big off the bench. Unless Henry Ellenson is ready for rotation minutes, which…
If Leuer isn’t quite ready for the start of the season, Stanley Johnson could play small-ball four, but that weakens wing depth.
The Pistons’ best hope is Leuer getting healthy on schedule.
Mocking Dwight Howard‘s frequent team changes has become commonplace around the NBA.
It even has crossover appeal.
On “Last Week Tonight,” John Oliver opened his monologue on President Donald Trump’s trade war with a few jokes at Howard’s expense. Suffice to say, Oliver doesn’t believe Howard will transform with the Wizards.
(warning: rest of Oliver’s speech contains not-safe-for-work language)
Paul Pierce was stabbed 11 times at a Boston nightclub on Sept. 25, 2000. He suffered a collapse lung and underwent emergency surgery. But Pierce famously played all 82 of the Celtics’ games that season. That feat was seen as a testament to his resolve.
Really, it was a coping mechanism .
Jackie MacMullan of ESPN:
Long after he was released from the hospital, Pierce remained nervous, jittery, anxious. He couldn’t sleep. The Celtics urged him to seek counseling, but he waved them off. “I thought, ‘I can do this myself,'” Pierce recalls. “I didn’t want anybody else in my business.”
But as the weeks dragged on, moving around in public spaces became almost unbearable for Pierce. The trauma of the event had stripped him of his confidence. His anxiety spiked while dining at Morton’s restaurant in Boston just a few months after the stabbing, when the manager approached him with a house phone and said a friend was insistent on speaking with Pierce. He picked up the receiver, and a menacing voice sneered, “I’m going to kill you.”
“So now I’m really paranoid,” Pierce says. “I don’t want to go anywhere. The police sat in the front of my house for months. I was a mess.
“I think that’s the reason I got back on the court so fast. Me sitting at home thinking about [the stabbing] didn’t work. I went to every practice, sat on the sideline for hours, because that’s where I felt safe. I didn’t want those practices to end because then I had to go back out there in this world that really scared me.”
“I should have opened up earlier than I did,” Pierce admits. “It was eating me alive. Once I finally started talking to a family member, it helped me.
“I realized, ‘I should have done this sooner.’ I would tell everyone to get the help they need. My depression was bad — really bad. I never want to feel that way again.”
This is one small excerpt of MacMullan’s incredible piece on mental health in the NBA. I highly recommend reading it in full.