MIAMI — Michael Beasley tried to pretend he barely noticed the Miami Heat making three straight Finals after his departure.
“I didn’t watch,” he claimed.
Don’t believe it. Of course the forward who was traded by Miami to Minnesota in a 2010 salary dump was looking on as the Heat fell in the Finals in 2011 but then won championships the two seasons after that.
“You know I did,” Beasley said. “I can’t lie. You get hungry. Especially when you see your old team do it three times in a row, get there three times all three years you weren’t there. You get hungry. You get mad.”
Beasley might not be mad if the Heat make it to a fourth straight Finals. That’s because he has rejoined the team on a nonguaranteed contract.
Beasley, not long after an arrest on suspicion of marijuana possession, agreed last month to a $7 million buyout from Phoenix. He then returned to the Heat, the team that made him the No. 2 pick in the 2008 draft after Chicago took Derrick Rose.
Beasley, who has had a number of off-court problems in his six-year career, is on a short leash. Because he didn’t get any guaranteed money, the Heat can release him at any time without penalty if has another misstep.
“I guess if you want to look at it that way,” Beasley said. “I’m not looking at it that way. I’m just here to play basketball. I’m not going to be looking at not making mistakes or trying not to mess up. Just trying to do things the right way consistently and let everything fall into place.”
If Beasley can avoid problems, he will be yet another intriguing piece on a deep Heat team that is favored to win a third straight crown. Beasley was dealt in 2010 when the Heat were clearing salary-cap room to bring in free agents LeBron James and Chris Bosh.
While Beasley has underachieved for being such a high pick, he did average 13.9 points as a rookie in 2008-09 and 14.8 in his second season. So it’s no surprise the Heat were interested at getting him for a bargain rate.
“I don’t have specific expectations on the court really,” said Erik Spoelstra, who was in his first year as head coach when Beasley was a rookie and whose team began training camp Tuesday in the Bahamas. “What this was this summer, a family member of ours we had an opportunity to develop for two years, because of business of the NBA, went on to another team. When he became available, we wanted to get him back in the organization.
“He had his most productive years here. We wanted to get him back. But this thing is how you can help us win. … I’m excited to see training camp in October to see how things will go.”
Beasley actually had his best season when he averaged 19.2 points with the Timberwolves in 2010-11. But he slipped the past two seasons to averages of 11.5 in Minnesota and 10.1 for Phoenix.
When it came time to choosing a new team, the Heat were Beasley’s first choice because he had a feeling of comfort with them.
“I think that was a good 60 percent of my decision, just not having to deal with uncertainty,” Beasley said. “This whole place is a world-class organization. … At this point in my life and career, I didn’t want to guess anymore. So this is the perfect place for me. I just didn’t want to deal with uncertainty. … It’s definitely a blessing. I’m glad. I’m grateful that they still even care. It’s a humbling experience coming from where I am.”
Beasley doesn’t turn 25 until January. But his years in the NBA have hardened him.
Beasley had plenty of problems after signing a three-year, $18 million contract before last season with the Suns. He was under police investigation for a sexual assault accusation and was cited for speeding, driving on a suspended license and driving without a license plate or registration before his arrest in August that came after Beasley was stopped and an officer smelled marijuana in his car.
“I’m older,” Beasley said of how he’s different from his first Miami stint. “I say it a lot. I’ve been through a lot, experienced a lot. I’m humbled. It’s definitely humbled me. I’m definitely a different person. Not as carefree. More aware of life. Not just basketball but just life period.’”
All of this happened when the Heat were busy making three straight Finals. Beasley sure would like to be around for just one.