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Updated: April 19th, 2012 8:56am
Wessel: Hard for Wolves to justify picking up Michael Beasley's option

Wessel: Hard for Wolves to justify picking up Michael Beasley's option

by
1500ESPN.com

With just three games left before this miserable Minnesota Timberwolves season can be put it out of its misery, it's time for the team to start turning its attention to the offseason and the decisions that will be need to be made heading into next year.

One decision that should be an easy one for the brass at 600 First Ave North is the future of Michael Beasley. In short, the Wolves would be foolish to pick up his $8.1 million option for next season. They should let the talented but enigmatic star leave.

That might be a tough pill for some Wolves fans to swallow, as Beasley is easily one of the most popular players in a locker room full of likeable players.

Hell, the biggest pop from the crowd in Tuesday's 91-84 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies came during a timeout late in the game when a team karaoke video was shown, with Beasley especially crushed the ending of the 'N Sync's "Tearing Up My Heart."

But that's a big part of the problem for the former No. 2 overall pick. Beasley is more court jester than king -- reliable for a laugh, but not in the fourth quarter when the game is on the line.

There is no question Beasley is liked by his teammates, too. Still, he's like the charismatic college classmate you love grabbing beers with, but cringe if you have to rely on him for a class project.

Beasley is immensely talented. If there were a way to measure pound-for-pound basketball ability, he would likely be tops on the team. Nobody has ever doubted his skills as a player.

But he simply hasn't done enough here in his two seasons since the Miami Heat gave up on him to warrant the Wolves to continue taking chances on him -- especially at a price tag that would make him the second-highest player behind Kevin Love next season.

Injuries have been frustrating for Beasley, but handling them, recovering and returning to the court is part of the maturation process.

I wrote when Beasley returned to the lineup and Adelman began using him off the bench that the next few months would be telling to his future in Minnesota. Embrace the role and give Adelman no choice but to start him or continue to take one step forward and two steps back. He chose the latter.

Beasley could still right the ship somewhere and live up the hype that had many claiming he should have been the No. 1 selection in the 2008 draft over league MVP Derrick Rose. And honestly, I hope he does. He is one of the more likable athletes you'll ever be around. But the NBA isn't a popularity contest, it is a business.

And in this business, the Wolves cannot continue to take chances on a guy who has yet to show any real signs of maturing. That is what the last two seasons were for, and now, it is time to cut the cord.

Now is the time for the Wolves to be serious about building a winning a team. The window is open now with Love and an eventually-healthy Ricky Rubio to build around them with serious, dedicated talent.

Remember, Love and Rubio could both potentially be free agents after the 2004-15 season. If the Wolves want to create the dynasty of winning around these two players, they can't have any more seasons that end in frustration.

Yes, injuries sent this season off the tracks, but I am sure that won't be in the forefront of the minds of Love and Rubio when they are pondering their future in a few years.

It will be tough for some to see Beasley go. It will mean one less bit of comic relief during timeouts and fewer jersey sales.

But if the Wolves want to end their NBA-long playoff draught, now is the time to say goodbye to Beasley and reinvest the money elsewhere.

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