MIAMI — Michael Beasley’s first stint with the Miami Heat lasted two seasons.
Not exactly the plan when a player is taken with the second overall pick in the Draft.
Two things contributed to an early exit from Miami in July 2010: cap space needed to sign LeBron James and Chris Bosh, and Beasley’s immaturity and penchant for off-court troubles.
“My first time around, I was a knucklehead,” Beasley said following Sunday morning’s practice. “A guy coming from nothing, with a lot of money and thought he knew everything. This time around, I’m trying to be more part of the team, more part of the community, more part of the Miami Heat culture. And it takes effort.”
Some people in Phoenix might chuckle at seeing those words. Beasley was released by the Suns early last month in the wake of his arrest on suspicion of marijuana possession.
But if there’s a team with which Beasley can salvage his career, the Heat figure to be it. Miami not only has a previous relationship with the player, it’s where team president Pat Riley has implemented a way of life that a veteran championship nucleus helps enforce.
“Guys that embrace our culture, our way of doing things, and if their skill set fits how we play, then often times we’re open-minded to making it work regardless to what happened to that player at a previous stop,” coach Erik Spoelstra said.
In five NBA seasons — two with Miami, two with Minnesota, one with Phoenix — Beasley has averaged 14.1 points. His best season was 2010-11, when he scored 19.2 points with the Timberwolves.
Shortly after being released by Phoenix, Beasley signed a non-guaranteed deal that reportedly could be worth $1.027 million if he sticks with the Heat.
“I kind of came in with an eerie feeling, kind of scared, nervous as to how they were going to accept me,” he said of his new teammates. “But everybody’s just taken me in as their little brother. It feels good to be wanted. To actually be somewhere where they want to have you.”
The pre-training camp message from Riley and Spoelstra to Beasley was for the forward to play hard and fit in. They offered no assurance he would make the team.
“If that doesn’t happen, it doesn’t have anything to do with my talent or my skill set. It’s just the guys I have to beat out — Shane Battier, Rashard Lewis, Birdman (Chris Andersen),” Beasley said. “Those guys had to work to get to where they are, and worked to be contributors on a championship team.
“It’s not going to be easy to beat them out of spots. And I’m not necessarily trying to beat them out of spots, I’m just trying to come and fit in with the team as best as possible.”
As a natural scorer, the former Kansas State star could be a big help off the bench, especially when two of the Big Three sit.
“He’s got raw talent, and he’s a scorer — he’s always been able to do that since he picked up a basketball,” guard Dwyane Wade said. “I think as he gets to understand the offense more, you’ll see the maturity on his abilities to be able to score in different ways and do different things.”
“He’s been in a lot of situations where he can score a lot very fast,” center Chris Bosh said. “Us having him is a big-time luxury. With the bunch of looks we’re going to get this year, he’ll be able to help out a lot.”
Beasley missed Miami’s Oct. 7 preseason opener due to a minor calf injury. He scored nine points at Detroit on Thursday night and 13 points in 19 minutes against Charlotte in Kansas City on Friday night.
“It felt great to finally use what I’ve been working on with the team and individually,” Beasley said, “but I’m also just ready for more, ready to get out there and play and help my team win — that’s really what I’m focused on more than anything. To play hard and doing what I have to do to help us win.”
As a “go-to guy, go-to scorer my whole life,” Beasley is being asked to adjust to a team with several such players. He said he’s working on improving his defense and rebounding besides watching a lot of tape to learn how to handle certain offensive sets.
“When we had him as a young player, we were trying to teach him our system, our culture, but also teach him NBA situations,” Spoelstra said. “When you play five or six years in the league, those situations are more familiar and now we’re simply fast-tracking him on how we do things.”