Wolves Saturday: Michael Beasley surprisingly valuable to Miami this season
MINNEAPOLIS — Through the Miami Heat’s first 19 games, Michael Beasley appears to have found some peace.
There wasn’t a whole lot during his two years in Minnesota, where he stood out on a 17-win team one season and became lost in the shuffle the next. His first stint in Miami, the team that drafted him in 2008, wasn’t much more fruitful and ended in a cap-space-clearing trade that shipped him to the Twin Cities. A season in Phoenix heaped more dirt upon his already-tarnished reputation and ended with him being cut a year into his contract.
But a return to South Beach, so far at least, has done the former college freshman phenom a lot of good.
And the Heat are reaping mutual benefits.
“He’s been good,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said after his team’s shootaround Saturday morning at the Target Center. “He’s embraced the routine and the work ethic that we expect of him, and he’s learning each game. He’s been making the most of his opportunities, and we’re bringing him along at a pace that we think is appropriate.”
Nestled among a cupboard full of superstars, Beasley isn’t logging the minutes — career-low 17.6 per game — or scoring numbers — 11.4 points per game — he did during the Timberwolves’ heinous 2010-11 season in which he notched 19.2 points an outing (he started just seven games the next year, Rick Adelman’s first as Minnesota’s head coach). But he’s exhibiting efficiency that Spoelstra says is born from his organization’s championship culture.
There’s a Heat way of doing things, and Beasley — despite his rep for recalcitrance — is buying in, Spoelstra said.
“We want him to provide what everybody else does: help us win,” the coach said. “That’s all the details of our defense, the effort, the rebounding. We know that he has a gift for scoring, but it has to happen within the context of what we’re doing. He’s doing a good job of that.”
One issue has been the 6-foot-9, 235-pound swing man’s health. He was unable to play against his former team Saturday to a hamstring injury and missed his sixth game of the season.
But the same guy Scottsdale, Ariz., police arrested this summer in his third known marijuana-related incident is averaging 30.9 points per 48 minutes, good for ninth in the league and not far behind Kevin Love and Kevin Martin. Albeit on fewer attempts, he’s shooting 54.6 percent from the floor, a career high.
Miami’s front office members knew they were taking a flier on Beasley this summer, inking him to a league-minimum, $1 million deal. His initial departure from the franchise that picked him second overall out of Kansas State in the 2008 NBA Draft helped the Heat sign LeBron James and Chris Bosh and re-sign Dwyane Wade. It was precipitated, in part, by multiple fines for violation of team policy.
Now, he joins those three superstars as a reserve scoring spark in what’s shaping up to be a resurrection of his oft-maligned career. He’s even found a way to stay out of trouble, though the season is only a month old.
“He’s bought in, and he works hard and he’s really trying to add something to our group,” Miami forward Shane Battier said of Beasley, who ducked out of shootaround before reporters could talk to him Saturday. “He should be commended.”
Mbah a Moute, Wade in: Less than two weeks after Minnesota acquired from Sacramento via a trade, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute made his first Timberwolves start Saturday.
With Love away attending to a family matter, Adelman opted to go with the 6-foot-8, 230-pound flex forward and continue to bring backup four Dante Cunningham off the bench. The move gives Minnesota two defensive stoppers in the starting lineup in Mbah a Moute and wing Corey Brewer.
“I think it’s just matchups for us,” Adelman said. “They’ve got two tough guys in LeBron and Wade, and we’re just trying to give us a best chance. With Kevin out, we’re gonna have to defend to stay in the game.”
Love is currently in Portland, Ore., with his family mourning the loss of his maternal grandmother. Adelman said he talked with Love before he left town Friday and expected the All-Star power forward to be back with the team Sunday.
Timberwolves assistant coach Terry Porter had said Friday either Cunningham or Mbah a Moute — both known for their defense and occasional paint scoring — could have had his name called.
Spoelstra said after his team’s shootaround Saturday morning his team must remain wary no matter who replaced Love, complimenting the backcourt combination of Martin and Ricky Rubio and pointing out center Nikola Pekovic as a primary point of emphasis.
So is rebounding: Miami has been blown out on the boards during its last two outings, both losses.
“That changes things; he’s a dynamic player,” Spoelstra said of Love. “But in terms of what they do with their offense, how easily they can score, how they move the ball, the pick-and-roll triggers that happen with Rubio, Pekovic in the post and a great offensive rebounding team. Even without Love, we’ll have to contend with a lot of things that we haven’t done well the last couple games.”
Miami, meanwhile, gets Dwyane Wade back after a two-game absence. The franchise-pillar shooting guard has missed five contests with either nagging knee injuries or illness this season but felt healthy enough to test the waters Saturday, he said.
“I’ll try and go out there and see how I feel and take it from there,” said Wade, who missed 13 games last season and had an offseason shockwave therapy procedure performed on his right knee. “I’ve had a couple days to recover. … I may have to get out there and try to run it up out of me early. It’s gonna be rough early, but I’ll be alright.”
Baby Adelman: Adelman missed practice Friday to be with his son and Timberwolves colleague David Adelman and his wife, Jenny, who gave birth to their first child Friday evening.
L.J. Adelman was born around 6 p.m. Friday and is doing fine, according to his grandfather. Both Rick and David Adelman were back on the sidelines for Saturday night’s contest.
“It was a little bit long, but it was much longer for her,” Adelman joked. “But it was nice. Everything turned out great.”
A gruff, sometimes-distant head man with a huge soft spot for family, Adelman beamed when asked for an update on his son, daughter-in-law and newest grandchild. The 67-year-old coach said he’s been present for the births of all eight of his grandkids despite the time demands that come with coaching in the NBA for 23 years.
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