Wessel: With Michael Beasley at another crossroads, it's sulk or swim
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Michael Beasley is at a crossroads.
That statement shouldn't come as a shock.
He's been there since the Miami Heat gave up on him, sending the former No. 2 overall draft pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves for a pair of throwaway, second-round picks.
Beasley is at the same crossroads as when he arrived here in July 2010. He has all the talent a kid shooting jump shots on a playground could ever dream of. He also has the unfilled potential of about baker's dozen NBA busts all rolled into one.
The only difference between then and now is Beasley no longer has the benefit of time on his side.
About a third of the way into this second season with the Wolves -- and the final year of his rookie contract -- Beasley is close to having a second team in four years give up on him after he appeared the surest of sure things coming out of Kansas State in 2008.
Beasley has played in 11 of the Wolves' 22 games and has been relegated to the bench after missing an extended stretch with a mid-foot sprain he suffered on Jan. 6. In his tenure at Target Center, he has hasn't done much of anything on -- or off -- the court to convince the Wolves they should commit anything to his future.
There may be no better example of the yin and yang of Beasley than the past three games off the bench.
Last week, in a loss to the Lakers, he scored 18 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, dished three assists, got a steal and blocked a shot in 30 engaged, productive minutes.
On Monday, Beasley did it with scoring in a win in Houston. He pumped in a season-high 34 points on 10-of-14 shooting from the field, 2-of-3 from behind the arc and 12-of-12 from the free-throw line.
But in Wednesday night's loss to the Pacers, he seamlessly transitioned to the Beasley who has caused Wolves fans to double-fist $7 dollar beers out of frustration at Target Center.
He shot just 3-of-11 from the field and scored 11 points. He grabbed one rebound, got a steal and turned over the ball twice in 20 minutes that saw him revert back to a lot of standing around and watching on offense.
One step forward. One step back.
Stagnant progress. More of the same.
Beasley has said all the right things about coming off the bench -- which shouldn't come as a shock. He is the king of saying the right things when they need to be said. It is fulfilling those promises that has always been the issue for him.
Noble in thought, but weak in execution.
No clearer sign that Beasley has run out of time for excuses and empty promises came when David Kahn, the Wolves' president of basketball operations, spoke to the media after the lockout ended.
Kahn had been such a cheerleader for Beasley in the past he did everything short of starting a Beasley fan website and wearing his replica jerseys in the stands during games.
But even Kahn had seemingly run out of patience with Beasley, who -- lest it be forgotten -- was cited for marijuana possession over the summer. Kahn said Beasley's role on the team will be up to Beasley.
It still is.
Beasley can accept his role of a bench player, understand he isn't the team's go-to scorer and play his way back into the starting lineup of a team that has a decision to make on his future come this summer.
Or he can continue saying the right things while doing another, sulk through games and be the black hole on offense that is a better fit in an And-1 Mixtape than an NBA offense.
It is up to him. It always has been. The Wolves will likely hang on to him through the end of the season, because teams aren't exactly lighting up the phone lines for a troubled player who will be a free agent at season's end.
If Beasley doesn't realize now that his career is at a fork in the road, while he watches his buddy Kevin Love ink a $62 million deal and he plays for a hall of fame-caliber coach in Rick Adelman, you have to wonder if he ever will.