Redemption Quest: Michael Beasley gets another shot
The current iteration of the Houston Rockets (30-31) are a far cry from last year’s version that won 56 games and rollicked into the Western Conference Finals. This year’s unit has been marred by inconsistency, injuries, a coaching change and failed experiments.
Heading down the stretch, the Rockets are clinging to the last and final playoff spot in the West. With title aspirations seemingly a pipe dream at the moment, the Rockets are gearing up to fend off Sacramento and Utah to remain in the playoff mix.
One of the major areas impacting the team’s success is power forward play. Forward Terrence Jones has suffered through a season plagued by injuries and illness. The team acquired veteran Josh Smith earlier in the campaign, but his performance has been erratic at times. Looking to strengthen the position, Houston recently signed former lottery pick Michael Beasley for the remainder of the season.
Beasley, fresh off being named Most Valuable Player of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), will be paid the league minimum and the Rockets will reportedly have a team option for next season.
Beasley, the No. 2 overall pick of the 2008 Draft, has battled his own bouts with inconsistency during his seven-year career, but in Houston he will now get another shot at redemption on a team desperately seeking stability in the frontcourt.
“Every player wants to leave their mark,” Beasley told Rockets.com following his first practice. “Every player has a legacy to worry about. Mine isn’t the greatest so far. That’s what I’m looking forward to accomplishing, getting my career back on track, on top of helping the team get to new places in the playoffs.
“When you’re put in the position I’ve been put in the last couple of years, from number two pick to coming off the bench, maybe getting four minutes, ending up overseas, a lot of things start to dawn on you. A lot of decisions, the right ones, the wrong ones. When I was out basically, that’s when I took it upon myself to do everything I could do to get back.”
Beasley isn’t the Rockets’ first, or even second, player experiment of the 2015-16 campaign. Last summer, the club acquired troubled guard Ty Lawson with the hope he would become the team’s floor general on a title contending unit. It didn’t work and the club reached a buyout agreement with Lawson, who has since signed with the Indiana Pacers, earlier this week.
Houston also traded for Smith, who had somehow fallen out of the Los Angeles Clippers’ frontcourt rotation despite the fact the team was missing former All-Star Blake Griffin. The results have been mixed, as Smith is shooting a woeful 31 percent from the floor since arriving in Houston.
Beasley averaged a whopping 31.9 points, 13.2 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.0 steals with the Shandong Golden Stars of the CBA. In Houston, Beasley won’t be asked to be a focal point of the rotation, but he’s a proven double-digit scorer in the league when given a steady helping of minutes.
No retirement plans for Mike Miller?
Father Time is undefeated but in the case of Denver Nuggets forward Mike Miller, injuries and lots of them led to his decline ahead of schedule. Those new to the sport won’t remember that Miller is a former Sixth Man of the Year or that he averaged double digits in scoring in nine of his first 10 campaigns in the league.
Most will remember Miller as an oft-injured performer on the Miami HEAT championship squads in 2012 and 2013.
But Miller is far from title contention these days on the lottery-bound Nuggets, where the veteran is not thinking about retirement in the near future.
“To be honest with you, I feel fresher than I have in years, even though I’m getting older,” Miller said, according to Matt Moore of CBS Sports. “I still love to practice, I still love to play, in the minutes I do. It’s fun just to be around it. Right now I’m just kind of playing as long as they’ll let me.”
Miller, 36, is averaging just 1.2 points and 1.2 rebounds on the season, but feels he is having a major impact on the young guys in Denver’s rotation. The veteran also wouldn’t rule out coaching once he decides to hang up the laces for good.
“It’s something I’ve looked at,” Miller said. “There are some things I think I can add, but right now I’m just happy to be around the guys and I think my voice has more impact in the locker room.”
The Nuggets (24-37) currently sit 11th in the Western Conference standings, 6.5 games behind the Houston Rockets for the final playoff spot.
Make sure to follow Basketball Insiders on Twitter at @BBallInsiders.