Timberwolves' Beasley ready for a fresh start
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Michael Beasley sat behind a microphone at his introductory news conference in Minnesota and was asked to give an opening statement.
"Hi," he said quietly, "I'm Michael Beasley."
To Beasley, "introductory" was a perfect description for the event.
The Timberwolves acquired the former No. 2 overall draft choice from the cash-strapped and All-Star-rich Miami Heat last week, hoping a change of scenery and a move to a young team will bring out the considerable talents he showed in his one year of college at Kansas State.
Even though he left a team that just added LeBron James and Chris Bosh to play alongside Dwyane Wade on glitzy South Beach for a rebuilding team with no stars that won just 15 games last season, Beasley said he was looking forward to a chance to show what he's really all about.
"I feel like I did good my last two years in the NBA playing for Miami," Beasley said on Thursday. "But I feel like there's a lot that the world don't know about me. A lot of my game hasn't been shown. A lot of my personality hasn't been shown. I feel like it's a new beginning and a fresh start and I'm ready to start my life."
Beasley wasn't a bust in Miami, but the power forward wasn't the unstoppable force the Heat envisioned when they took him after Derrick Rose went first overall in 2008. He averaged 14.8 points and 6.4 rebounds in 78 starts.
But he never seemed to be completely comfortable playing in the shadow of Wade, and was a distraction off the court, getting kicked out of the NBA rookie symposium, fined for breaking rules and entering into substance-abuse treatment in Houston last summer.
"I don't want to say anything I'm going to regret," Beasley said. "Miami, they have a special way of doing things. They just didn't need what I had to offer at the time with Dwyane Wade on the floor and guys like Jermaine O'Neal, you had established NBA All-Stars on the floor. I guess it just wasn't my turn."
It will be in Minnesota.
The 21-year-old is the highest-paid player on a young roster lacking established veterans. That could be a concern for a Wolves front office determined to provide a structured, yet loose, environment in which Beasley can blossom.
But president David Kahn said the next priority is to add some more experience to his baby-faced roster while challenging players like Beasley and second-year point guard Jonny Flynn to mature into team leaders.
"What's important to me is how he plays, conducts himself, operates as a Minnesota Timberwolve," Kahn said. "We're a lot like Miami in certain ways. We have very strict guidelines, very firm beliefs in hard work and organization and believe players should be given every opportunity to flourish, that no restrictions should be put on them or their games; but that in return, we expect a lot out of them in terms of the way they conduct themselves and the way they work."
Beasley said he is ready for the increased responsibility. After trading leading scorer Al Jefferson to Utah on Tuesday, the Wolves have an opening for a go-to scorer. Beasley said going through rehab made him a better person and he is ready to show everyone that he has put his problems behind him.
"Do I think the Wolves took a gamble on me? Definitely," Beasley said bluntly. "But I believe in myself and I trust in myself to take care of business like I'm supposed to."
The gamble isn't that big. The Wolves gave up two second-round picks to get Beasley, a very small price to pay for such a young player who was so highly regarded just two years ago. The Heat simply had to move him to make room for James, Bosh, Mike Miller and the rest of the revamped roster.
Beasley showed quite a sense of humor Thursday, especially when he was asked what personality traits never came to the forefront in Miami.
"People don't know that I'm actually a good guy," Beasley said with a smile. "I actually love kids and dogs and long walks in the park."
Laughter filled the room and, for the first time in a while, he is being counted on again.
"There are not many Michael Beasleys with his kind of skill, athleticism and the drive to become one of the best players in our league," Kahn said. "He wants everything and then some and I think he can achieve that here with us at the Minnesota Timberwolves, provided that he is professional and works hard and is our first guy to practice and our last guy to leave and he accepts the challenge of becoming a team leader, which I think he can also become."