Lon Babby does not view this as a day to celebrate or to be congratulated.
However, the decision to waive forward Michael Beasley, which the team did Tuesday, was one he very much stands behind and is fine with, especially in light of Beasley’s August arrest for possession of marijuana.
“(General manager) Ryan McDonough and I sat down with Michael very early in the summer, shortly after Ryan arrived, had a very candid and direct conversation with him about what our expectations were for the summer and that we would be evaluating the situation as the summer unfolded,” Babby told Arizona Sports 620’s Burns and Gambo Tuesday. “Obviously, those legal matters intervened and it’s important for us to establish and maintain a championship culture, one that holds players to the highest standards both on and off the court.”
With that, Babby said the team had to be “unwavering” in its commitment, which led to the player’s off-court issues being the “prime motivation in making the move we did” Tuesday.
So, the team parted with a player whom it signed to a three-year, $18 million contract in July 2012. Beasley, 24, averaged career lows with 10.1 points and 3.8 rebounds per game, and struggled to find a role with the team.
Yet, his talent has always been undeniable, and the team had signed him hopeful it could keep him in line and unlock the abilities that led him to be the second-overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft.
To do that, the Suns did their best to surround Beasley with the right people and place him in an environment in which he could be successful, but Babby admitted that the organization knew all along the kind of “calculated risk” it was taking with a player bringing the baggage Beasley did.
“The risk didn’t work out in our favor,” he said. “I have no regrets about the effort we made in trying to make it successful and having Michael be successful here, but at some point you have to recognize what’s happened and look at the bigger picture.”
At that point, Babby said, the key is being able to move on in a quick and efficient manner, which is what the team is trying to accomplish with parting ways now.
In doing so, the Suns will actually gain some salary cap space over the next few seasons, which makes this move a good one for basketball reasons, too.
For that to be the case the Suns had to pay Beasley more this year than they necessarily had to, which is something Babby believes owner Robert Sarver deserves credit for.
As for any “blame” that one may want to assign for the team signing Beasley in the first place? Lance Blanks, who was the GM at the time, is no longer with the Suns, while Babby, who was with them then and still is, lays out exactly why the Suns were willing to take a chance on the guy, hoping to catch lightning in a bottle.
“It was a gamble that we felt we could get a player of enormous potential at a price that would be below-market,” he said. “Obviously, it didn’t turn out that way, but I can say that we did our due diligence and we went into it with our eyes open.
“It would be unconscionable if we did it without our eyes open and were stunned by the outcome. We knew this was a distinct possibility, and unfortunately it came to pass.”