Michael Beasley's NBA career got started in Miami, and now the Heat are hoping it can be revived in Miami.
The troubled forward is back with the Heat, signing a contract on Wednesday that will give him another chance to prove he belongs in the NBA. He was bought out earlier this month by the Phoenix Suns, not long after the No. 2 pick in the 2008 draft was arrested in Arizona on charges of felony marijuana possession and possession of drug paraphernalia.
"Michael had the best years of his career with us," Heat President Pat Riley said. "We feel that he can help us."
Yahoo Sports reported on Saturday that the Heat were interested in bringing Beasley back, and the team quickly and emphatically denied that a reunion was in the cards. Four days later, the deal was done, and Beasley will be in training camp with the two-time defending NBA champions on Oct. 1.
It took some doing on Beasley's side to make the Heat offer become reality. A person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press that the team initially had no interest in bringing Beasley back, then was swayed after the former Kansas State star offered to accept a nonguaranteed contract.
That's what it took for the Heat to decide on Wednesday that they would "give him a shot," said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because neither side had released specific details of the talks.
"Well well well the homie is back," Heat guard Mario Chalmers, who was particularly close with Beasley, wrote on Twitter. "I want every heat fan to welcome back my brotha ... aka mr buckets back to Miami. We focused"
Beasley was traded by Miami to Minnesota in July 2010, part of the sweeping moves that allowed the Heat the financial flexibility to re-sign Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem, plus land Chris Bosh and LeBron James.
So there is a certain irony in that, as the NBA heads into what's expected to be another wild free-agent summer in 2014 — with James, Wade and Bosh among those who could be choosing new homes — Beasley is back in Miami and tasked with helping the Heat win a third straight title.
"We felt Michael had two very good years in Miami," Riley said when the Heat traded Beasley to Minnesota for draft picks. "We feel he will have a very productive career."
It hasn't exactly worked out as planned.
Long road back
Beasley averaged a career-best 19.2 points in his first season in Minnesota, then saw his numbers and productivity plummet since. In the last two seasons, one largely as a reserve with the Timberwolves and then this past season as a part-time starter in Phoenix, Beasley has averaged 10.7 points on 42 per cent shooting.
In his two Miami seasons, Beasley played in 87 Heat wins. In the three seasons since, he's been part of 57 wins.
And then there's the off-court matters, which have always dogged Beasley, even predating his first NBA game. The Suns bought Beasley out for $7 million and said that they needed to "demand the highest standards of personal and professional conduct as we develop a championship culture."
In June 2011, Beasley was ticketed for marijuana possession and speeding in a Minneapolis suburb. He has acknowledged that while he was with the Heat, he twice violated the NBA's drug policy and entered a treatment facility in 2009.
He's the latest entry in the low-risk, potentially high-reward moves the Heat have made in the past year, first signing Chris Andersen this past January and seeing him become an important part of the rotation on the way to the second straight title. Miami also signed Greg Oden to a veterans' minimum deal this summer, the same sort of deal that Beasley is getting from the club.
With James, Wade, Oden, Beasley, Bosh, Shane Battier and Ray Allen, the Heat now have seven players on their roster who were selected No. 6 or higher in their respective NBA draft classes.