Even the most noble of risks can end poorly, and the Michael Beasley experiment was hardly noble.
Yet, it was a risk the Phoenix Suns undertook in July 2012, signing the mercurial talent to a three-year, $18 million contract.
One season into the deal, his career with the team has gone up in smoke.
The Suns threw down their bet, and the dice came up snake eyes. They lost, plain and simple, and now they will look to move on from one of the worst mistakes the franchise has ever made.
Yet, it was the right move to take a chance last summer, just as it is the right call to end the relationship now, even though it will cost the team $7 million over the next few years to not have him around.
Signing Beasley gave the Suns a shot at landing a star player at a time when, quite frankly, they had little ability to do so. Years of choosing mediocrity over bottoming out led to middling first-round draft picks, and refusing to part with aging veterans while they could have brought back more in return left them with little in the way of young talent to build around.
Sure, the Suns had cap space, but they were not going to lure a big-time star to the desert last summer and were still a season away from landing the first top-five pick since 1987. They were in position to take a flyer on a player who, remember, was just a few seasons removed from being the second-overall pick in the NBA Draft.
Had Beasley been able to turn his life around, the Suns very well could have landed an All-Star-caliber player at a time when they badly needed one. Of course, Beasley was unable to change, and now his once-promising career is on the ropes.
But that is all for the 24-year-old to figure out. Or not. Probably not.
The Suns, meanwhile, will look to move on.
It’s worth wondering if Lance Blanks, the general manager who pursued and signed Beasley, would have been willing to make this move. Rarely do personnel men like to admit mistakes, and the belief here is if Blanks was still in Phoenix, so too would Beasley.
But new general manager Ryan McDonough has no ties to the failed signing, and thus was free to clean up the mess and come out looking like the good guy.
“We have high standards for all of our players,” McDonough said in a press release. “We expect them to represent the team and the community in a positive manner both on and off the court.”
Had Beasley produced more than 10.1 points and 3.8 rebounds in 20.7 minutes per game last season, perhaps the team would have been more lenient. After all, while it’s nice to talk about things like standards and image, winning is and will continue to be the most important thing.
However, the only positive results Beasley produced were drug-related — not on the basketball court — which made this decision an easy one.
But hey, you can’t blame the team for trying.