While I still find it hard to believe that the Chicago Bulls would pass on a player that not only fills their most gaping need, but who is also the most talented player in the draft, should Michael Beasley make it past the #1 slot, the chances of him making his way past the Miami Heat seem to be growing with each passing day.
Last week, much was made of the juxtaposition between the reserved Derrick Rose and the exuberant Beasley at the NBA Pre-Draft Camp in Orlando.
Of more concern may be the perception that Beasley has more than just basketball on his mind. While Rose kept all of his comments on the game and the teams he might play for, Beasley answered a question about Miami not by talking about Pat Riley, Dwyane Wade or Shawn Marion … but by referencing the beach.
That one factor could kill Beasley's chances of landing in Chicago -- or Miami for that matter. Pat Riley continues to insist that the draft is not a two-man race. With O.J. Mayo and Dwyane Wade becoming fast friends working out together in Chicago … Beasley better be on his best behavior.
This comes on top of the reality that the Miami Heat are gearing up for a massive salary dump at the end of next season. Who could they be targeting? It sounds like Elton Brand or Carlos Boozer:
With the Heat eager to clear big 2009 salary-cap space to add another elite player, one logical scenario -- if the Bulls pass up on Derrick Rose -- would be drafting Rose at No. 2 (Miami's hope) and pursuing potential free agent power forwards Carlos Boozer or Elton Brand in the summer of 2009. But if Miami drafts and keeps power forward Michael Beasley, Pat Riley faces harder decisions. Although nothing can be assumed in free agency, an associate said Boozer -- who has a residence here -- likes Dwyane Wade and would be very receptive to Heat interest in 2009, when he is expected to opt out of his Utah contract. Brand displayed a liking for Miami when he signed a Heat offer sheet that the Clippers matched in 2003. Brand can opt out this summer, but the Clippers do not expect that. They believe he will sign an extension or play for $16.4 million next season and become an 2009 free agent.
This isn't the first time Boozer's name has been associated with the Heat. It's also not the first time he would bolt on a team that's heavily invested in him.
Again: if the Heat (and the Bulls) want to pass on Michael Beasley, the Wolves hold all the chips in the game. If Pat Riley wants OJ Mayo, fine...draft him, but the Wolves should offer nothing in return as they would be equally happy with Mr. Mayo running the floor opposite Randy Foye (to say nothing of other players they may have in mind). Riley is bluffing...the Wolves should call it.
Oh, and if Beasley does happen to fall to the 3rd slot, there are 3 options:
- Pull the trigger and draft the best player in the 2008 NBA Draft
- Make a quick call to Memphis and ask them if they want to move their 2 1st rounders, Mike Conley, and Darko for the pick. They could then pick up Love or Joe Alexander with the 5th pick and either CDR or Hardin with the pick in the 20s.
- Make a call to the Bucks and see about an Andrew Bogut + the number 8 pick deal. Even more so than Joakim Noah, Bogut is the perfect compliment to Jefferson. He is a good-passing big man who can defend and take a charge. Bogut is also a Stop-n-Pop favorite. The Wolves could then grab (hopefully) Alexander with the 8th pick.
These are the only options that make a lick of sense should Beasley fall in their laps.