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Michael Beasley, after missing 11 of 13 shots in loss to Dallas: ‘I shot the ball great tonight.’ He was serious.

Feb 2, 2013, 8:00 AM EDT

Lindsey Hunter, Michael Beasley

PHOENIX — When the Suns signed Michael Beasley as a free agent last summer, they had high hopes that by immersing him in their offense-first system, he’d turn out to be the team’s main scoring threat on a very consistent basis.

It hasn’t exactly worked out that way for Beasley in his first season in Phoenix. He was anointed as “the man” by Alvin Gentry and the previous coaching regime before he was able to meet those expectations on the court, and since he found himself essentially out of the rotation for extended stretches after being unable to live up to that moniker, he’s been struggling with consistency, in terms of both minutes and production.

Under new head coach Lindsey Hunter, however, the directive has changed. Instead of solely coaching to win games on a nightly basis, Hunter is tasked with developing the younger players on the roster, and that includes Beasley. He’ll get his minutes and his chances, but he remains the same inconsistent player he’s been to this point in his five-year NBA career.

Friday night, during the Suns’ loss to the Mavericks, Beasley regressed once again. After dominating and pouring in 27 points while leading his team to a comeback win over the Lakers on Wednesday, Beasley managed just four points on 2-of-13 shooting, with a team-high three turnovers in 28 minutes of action.

The problem isn’t Beasley’s overall inconsistency, which seems to be more in the player’s head than anywhere else. No, the problem is the way that Suns management — and to some extent, their interim head coach — is treating Beasley with kid gloves.

“I just think he was just a little off,” Hunter said after Friday’s loss to Dallas. “I don’t know if he was so hyped or so ready that he just got himself off a little bit, but I’m not worried about him. I’ll take what he did tonight, the shots, I’ll take all of it. I’m looking long-term with Mike, and as long as I see progress with Mike, I’m happy.”

There hasn’t been any progress, at least not any visible to the naked eye.

Beasley is still hesitant at times offensively, even after Hunter has given him the greenest light possible. Before the game on Friday, Hunter explained how Beasley has been instructed not to worry about passing, and just to attack and shoot when he gets the ball in a position to score.

And still, 2-of-13 shooting.

“Some days you can come and play and do everything right, and the ball will not go in for some strange reason,” Hunter said. “And other days you can come and feel like it’s not your day and you can’t miss. That’s the way basketball is. It’s a humbling sport. But you stay even keel, and you put the work in. And if you put the work in, more times than not you’ll be alright.”

The Suns brain trust — president of basketball operations Lon Babby and team GM Lance Blanks — are clearly not ready to give up on Beasley just yet, nor should they. Every opportunity should be given to the players brought in by senior management to succeed. But it shouldn’t be done in a vacuum and with blinders on, and that seems to be some of what is going on with Beasley in Phoenix.

Simply put, the amount of positive reinforcement heaped upon Beasley — even after one of his more dismal performances — seems to be borderline delusional.

“I thought I had a good game, the shots just didn’t fall,” Beasley said, after a performance where he missed 11 of his 13 shot attempts, and led the team with three turnovers, two of which came while attempting to inbound the ball on the baseline after the other team had just scored.

When Beasley was asked what the difference was tonight after putting in such a solid game in Wednesday’s win over the Lakers, he refused to even acknowledge that he took a step back.

“I shot the ball great. I shot the ball great tonight,” he said. “I got shots I wanted, the ball just didn’t fall. That’s it.”

Unfortunately, that’s not it.

Beasley was completely serious when he said “he shot the ball great,” which is the true sign that the team is telling him what he wants to hear in hopes that keeping things positive will help him gain some measure of consistency. It hasn’t thus far, so there’s no reason to think that’s the way to continue to go in the future.

When Beasley was subbed out for the final time on Friday midway through the fourth quarter, he was the only player huddled away from the bench with the entire Suns coaching staff. When asked what was said during that brief meeting, Hunter said it was simply a discussion of reassurance.

“I was just encouraging him, telling him ‘Hey, it’s OK.’ It’s part of the process,” Hunter said. ‘Hopefully one day we’ll be playing for a bigger picture than this, and we’ll be able to look back on this and kind of say wow, it was tough then, but this is the fruit of [that effort].”

The way the Suns are treating Beasley is reminiscent of a classic Twilight Zone episode, where the town folk are all scared of a little boy who can wish destructive things on people with his mind. They all placate him by being overly-enthusiastic while reassuring him that whatever he does, no matter how wrong, that it’s “good,” or “a real good thing.”

This is how the Suns approach Beasley’s dismal performances. And like that episode of the Twilight Zone, things are going to end badly in Phoenix if the team doesn’t change its course of action where Beasley is concerned.

  1. someidiotfromouthereintheprojects - Feb 2, 2013 at 8:15 AM

    michael beasley is such an enigma that even michael beasely doesn’t seem to understand michael beasely. strange…

  2. doublezero74 - Feb 2, 2013 at 8:29 AM

    Yeah he’s not a guy you can trust to deliver every night. Same old story every year.

    • mazblast - Feb 2, 2013 at 10:50 AM

      In ten years, he’ll be delivering every night.

      For Domino’s.

  3. fbnyanez - Feb 2, 2013 at 8:31 AM

    wow, he has played 6 consistent games, ever since the coaching change. He was due a bad game. You cant be serious? Smh

  4. mdev1987 - Feb 2, 2013 at 8:39 AM

    He’s still in the league?

  5. henryd3rd - Feb 2, 2013 at 10:05 AM

    There’s not doubt that Beasley has talent; but why did the Suns feel he’d be someone they could depend on in crucial situations? His career has been one disappointment after another. The low point of his career was his online rant with a bag of weed in the background. Riley and The Heat literally gave him away to free up cap space to sign LaBron, Chris and resign Dwayne. Minnesota got rid of him and Phoenix through him a lifeline and now this. Three contract? WTF!!!!

  6. kfiz14 - Feb 2, 2013 at 10:35 AM

    It’s February. They all think they can do no wrong.

  7. 00maltliquor - Feb 2, 2013 at 11:15 AM

    A couple things here for me…

    1) How come he couldn’t have done this in the game against the Lakers!!?? He lit us up like a Christmas tree a couple days ago, then he striaght up implodes the next game. Ahhhh!

    2) Has it really already been 5 years since he’s been in the league?? Where’d the time go! Jeez

    • raidmagic - Feb 2, 2013 at 1:48 PM

      Dallas plays defense the Lakers don’t

      • 00maltliquor - Feb 2, 2013 at 4:22 PM

        LOL!

        Dallas 22nd in defensive effeciency, Lakers 17th.

        Dwight’s gone homeboy, get OVER it! Build a bridge and get over it. No reason to hate as much as you do, jive turkey.

  8. losanginsight - Feb 2, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    Too bad for other citys that their teams only play hard against the LAkers or they would have more Banners in the rafters.

  9. macjacmccoy - Feb 2, 2013 at 11:22 PM

    Hell I would take him and those numbers over what Nick Young jacks up on a continual basis. I say straight up trade Beasley to Philly Young to Phoenix . Bc even tho Beasley can have a horrendous FG % like he did last night at least he keeps the attempts down. Well in comparison to Nick Young he does. Who can have nights where his FG% is just as bad as his but unlike Beasley he will do it at a 22 of 26 clip.

  10. kavika6 - Feb 3, 2013 at 6:20 AM

    Great Twilight Zone comparison.

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