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NBA AM: Updates on Beasley, Okafor and Allen

Michael Beasley, Emeka Okafor and Ray Allen could be among the top free agents remaining, but will they sign anytime soon?… Is Ricky Rubio worth MAX, In Minnesota he might be.

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Bease, Okafor and Allen:  With the NBA season roughly 36 away for almost every team in the league there are a few free agent “names”, floating around as teams try and flesh out their final roster spots. Here is something of an update:

Michael Beasley:

Free agent Michael Beasley has been talking with several teams and worked out recently for the LA Lakers, who still could be an option for Beasley, if and when he signs.

According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, at the bottom of his Sunday column, Beasley may not be in the HEAT’s plans anymore citing a source, suggesting the HEAT had issues with Beasley.

A person with direct knowledge cited several reasons for the Heat’s lack of interest: Inconsistency, lack of trust in his defense (and ability to execute the Heat’s defensive system), and maturity/focus issues, which are still a concern even though he improved somewhat in that regard last season.

To be fair, Jackson does state that Beasley had improved in a number of areas, but points to the HEAT’s decision to sign Shawne Williams and give him Beasley’s jersey number as strong indicators that the HEAT are moving on.

From Beasley’s side, he is looking for a situation in which he can get a fair shot to play, something he did not get in Miami, and also somewhere with some level of financial guarantee.

Beasley’s contract buyout was “stretched” by the Phoenix Suns, spreading his payout and cap hit over a longer time frame when they waived him last September. Beasley is owed roughly $777,777 for the next three seasons, so there is no rush to sign a bad deal. Equally, NBA contracts have a set-off rule, which allows the Suns to deduct whatever amount Beasley signs for from what they owe him. So signing for anything less than the $777,000 he’s guaranteed would be foolish, unless he was assured the chance to play.

Sources close to Beasley say he has been as focused as ever this offseason and is in great shape, so it will be interesting to see if another team will take a real chance on Beasley.

His side of things knows it needs to work this time, or Beasley may be out of the NBA for good hence why he is being very deliberate about opportunities and wants some level of assurance before he commits. Just coming to camp is not considered a viable option, unless there is a real chance to make the team and financial guarantees usually signal that.

Emeka Okafor:

Free agent big man Emeka Okafor missed the entire season last year in Phoenix to a neck injury. Okafor’ name has come up recently with ESPN’s Marc Stein reporting that Okafor has registered interest from almost half the league including the Miami HEAT and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Okafor has not been overly engaged on a deal for training camp, with the belief that he still has more rehab to do and will look to join a team mid-season.

Okafor was diagnosed with a herniated C4 cervical disc, located in the middle of the neck, last September and opted to forego surgery.

Okafor is arguably one of the best free agent centers left on the market. It will be interesting to see if someone tempts him into a contract knowing that he may not be ready to play until January or February.

The 31-year old Okafor has a career average of 12.3 points per game with 9.9 rebounds per contest. His stats have been on the decline for the last few seasons, but for a low dollar commitment he could be a low-risk, high-reward player when he decides to sign a contract.

Ray Allen:

Much like Okafor, free agent guard Ray Allen does not seem overly interested in coming to training camp. For several weeks it’s been reported that when Allen ultimately decides to play, it would be with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Every report suggesting Allen is coming to Cleveland is followed up by a report from his agent denying that Allen is talking to or even considering playing again.

Sources close to the process said early in the summer than Allen really wasn’t interested in free agency and that he was likely finished playing. There are a number of teams, including the Cavaliers that are trying to tempt Allen into one more season, however it still seems unclear if Allen will indeed suit up for another run.

Something to keep an eye on is Allen joining a team, likely the Cavaliers, after training camp, if he does not reach a deal before then.

There still remains a belief in his circle that Allen may no longer have the drive to get into the kind of playing shape he expects of himself and that the allure of spending time with his family is very real.

Rubio And The MAX?:  E. Trapani of Sportando.com, did a Q&A with 5 Eyewitness journalist and 1500 ESPN contributor Darren Wolfson. In the Q&A, Wolfson revealed that the Wolves and guard Rick Rubio have been talking contract extension and the Wolves have put a four-year $48 million offer on the table.

It’s not a big secret that when negotiating rookie scale extensions agents shoot for the moon. Rubio’s agent Dan Fegan is no different, Rubio is seeking a max level deal and rightly so.

There is no doubting that Rubio has failed to live up to his draft hype as maybe the next great point guard, and given the discounts other top tier guards gave their home teams with extensions, the Wolves have a case to seek a better price.

Here is the problem, are the Wolves ready for what comes next if they fail to reach a deal?

Rubio is not Chris Paul, but are the Wolves ready to let someone else put a number on the table for Rubio? Or would it be smarter post-Kevin Love to lock in Rubio as the leader of the team?

This is where being Minnesota is going to be a problem.

There is no chance that Rubio or his agents are going to budge off the max number, even if Rubio isn’t worth that kind of money on the court. Rubio is going to demand max money because he has to be in Minnesota for the bulk of his career.

Given the steps backwards the team may have taken trading Kevin Love, Rubio is the best star on the team today. Andrew Wiggins might become that, but for the Wolves to compete like they hope to compete, having Rubio’s status hanging around the team may not be smart, especially given the teams that will have ample cap space next summer.

It’s been suggested that the Wolves and Rubio won’t reach a deal this summer, and that Rubio will likely hit restricted free agency. Given what players like Gordon Hayward and Chandler Parson received, is it really smart to go down this road?

A max contract for Rubio would start in the $15.5 million range. The Wolves are offering a deal that averages $12 million per year, seeing how frugality played out with Kevin Love, is it smart to do the same thing with Rubio?

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Steve Kyler is the Editor and Publisher of Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA and basketball for the last 17 seasons.

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