It’s the Minnesota Timberwolves’ turn to deal with a COVID-19 outbreak.
Currently, seven players are out for the Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell, Anthony Edwards, Jarred Vanderbilt, Taurean Prince, and McKinley Wright IV are all in the health and safety protocols. Naz Reid was just added to the protocols on Sunday, while Patrick Beverley and Josh Okogie returned to practice. For those of you keeping track at home, that is the entire starting five and four bench players.
Edwards and Prince will be reaching the 10-day mark of their quarantines on Monday, Dec. 27, but it remains to be seen whether or not they will be eligible to play.
Some other teams in the NBA have had the luxury of having their games postponed when they have a large number of players in the protocols. For example, the Chicago Bulls have had many of their players enter the protocols, and the league has chosen to postpone their games. The league has treated other teams similarly.
On the other hand, the Timberwolves do not look like they will receive the same sort of treatment. Whether or not the NBA is postponing games to offset the competitive imbalance remains to be seen, but regardless, the league is not extending that grace to the Wolves. Despite missing its entire starting roster, the prerequisite eight necessary players have been available, and there appears to be no indication the league will postpone any of Minnesota’s games.
For a team like the Wolves, who are finally starting to look like playoff contenders after years of failure, not getting any postponements hurts. There will be no Hand of God nor any Adam Silver deus ex machina orchestrations to save this floundering mid-market team. Minnesota has to get by on the merits of grit and an assembly of G-League-level talent. In and of itself, that is a tall order for a team struggling to win consistently with a healthy lineup.
As teams across the league are looking to the scrap heap to fill out their roster with emergency players, it is time for the Timberwolves to make some moves. They have elevated some players from the Iowa Wolves, but the team has yet to make any splashy moves in the 10-day market frenzy. That is, of course, until Sunday’s news:
Signing Greg Monroe isn’t a huge deal, but it is one of the more prominent names that’s flashed across Minnesota’s collective timeline since ex-GM Gersson Rosas brought in Beverley. Monroe used to play at a high level, and at age 32, he is worth a roll of the dice to help out a team that is sorely lacking size and physical play with Towns, Reid, and Vanderbilt out.
However, the Timberwolves are devoid of versatile scorers with Russell, Towns, and Edwards out. Malik Beasley is a good enough 3-point shooter, but he is a one-trick pony. Jaylen Nowell has shown flashes of offensive dominance, but nothing has been consistent enough to be completely relied upon. If Sachin Gupta and the rest of the front office are serious about treading water while all of these players are out, they need to be taking long looks at proven veterans that have showcased the ability to score at all three levels.
Fortunately, that player is out there. He also happened to play some of the best basketball of his career in Minnesota.
That player is Michael Beasley.
Is Beasley perfect? Trick question.
Minnesota sure loves its homecomings, and signing Beasley to a 10-day would be a great way to rejuvenate some life into what has otherwise become a forecast of unwatchable games. Without Edwards, these recent games have been enough of a slog. With Beasley jacking up some crazy shots, that at least might make the prospect of watching a team of G-Leaguers more palatable.
Of course, portraying Beasley in this light would almost be a disservice to his skillset. Early in his career, he was an inefficient chucker whose unwillingness to commit on the defensive end damned the good aspects of his game. (Sound familiar?) With the Timberwolves’ major strides in defensive aptitude this season, any team fielding Beverley and Okogie would do well to mask the problems that a player like Michael Beasley would bring.
With regards to scoring, Beasley would be able to step in and score more confidently than many of the reserves Minnesota is currently fielding. Leandro Bolmaro has shown a total reluctance to shoot and does not look ready for NBA-caliber basketball. Jordan McLaughlin’s been enduring a hellish year where opponents have exposed the physical limitations of his game.
Beasley would reliably score better than Bolmaro and McLaughlin, as well as:
- Jake Layman
- Josh Okogie
- Greg Monroe
- Nathan Knight
- Chris Silva
- Rayjon Tucker
- Jaden McDaniels (on a good day)
Beasley has not played NBA basketball since the 2019-20 season with the Los Angeles Lakers. There would surely be a readjustment period. However, in this current window, where players like Joe Johnson are getting a shot at 40 years old and after 3 years of rust, it is not out of the question to roll the dice on Beasley.
Before his last season with the Lakers, Beasley enjoyed one of the most productive seasons with the New York Knicks. In the 2017-18 season, Beasley averaged 13.2 points on 50.7% shooting and 39.5% from 3. This was on nearly 11 shots and only 1.2 3-point attempts per game while playing 22.3 minutes a night across 74 games, per Basketball-Reference. His volume wasn’t high, but he was making the most of his opportunities.
This efficiency is far from the player Minnesota fans got to know in the early 2010s. With the Knicks, Beasley had appeared to adapt his game to the more modernized analytical approach to basketball. He was playing a great role off of the bench for the Knicks. He moved to Los Angeles for the 2018-19 season but got caught in the hurricane that is any LeBron James-orchestrated team and played in only 26 games. After that, Beasley contracted COVID-19 and had to miss the bubble. He has not played a regular-season NBA game since.
It is worth mentioning that Michael Beasley is only 32 (!!!) years old. Sure, he hasn’t played “good” basketball in a while, but he is still too young for those skills to have completely diminished. Plus, he should be fresh and ready to go without the grind of the last few seasons weighing down on his body.
Would Beasley fix everything for the Wolves? Absolutely not. But it’s worth a shot to take a flier on a player like him. Beasley is both eager for an opportunity to prove himself and can be relied upon for big minutes when called upon. He may not find a better chance to re-establish himself than in Minnesota this season. Fans would embrace him with open arms, which can go a long way for players like Beasley, who rely heavily on culture and confidence to play at their best.
Amidst all of the players in protocols, Gupta would be wise to inquire about Beasley’s availability. At worst, he sells tickets to suckers like me, plays out his 10 days, and Minnesota sends him on his merry way. At best, he helps the Timberwolves close out some must-win games over this crucial stretch in a competitive Western Conference.