While the biggest signing for the Los Angeles Lakers this summer was unquestionably LeBron James, he wasn’t the only one. The team made a number of other moves to sign veteran free agents Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee, Lance Stephenson and Michael Beasley.
The Lakers received more than their fair share of criticism in the national media for targeting players who aren’t known for their shooting ability, which is usually a key component of teams built around James.
Still, with all four veterans being on one-year contracts, the Lakers will be hoping that they will get the best out of each of them. Beasley, who was the last to sign, is particularly adept at scoring.
He has bounced around (and out of) the NBA after being selected with the second overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, and he told Bleacher Report that he was particularly moved by the faith Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson has in him:
“I was happy that someone trusted that I could play basketball, somebody wanted me to play basketball. Being in L.A., being with LeBron—all those things were a plus, but the way the Lakers were speaking to me on behalf of me and my game and things I can do for the Lakers, that part was overwhelming for me. Because I’ve really been at a down state in my career mentally and confidence-wise. So to reassure me that I can play basketball, the way Magic was talking—it was good to hear someone I looked up to talk about my game. Being wanted and being admired was really overwhelming.”
Beasley figures to pick up reserve minutes at power forward behind James and Kyle Kuzma, and could possibly even lineup at center if the Lakers deploy a small-ball lineup. Beasley played alongside James for one season in Miami, so the two are already familiar with each other, and James values what Beasley brings to the table.
In the bright lights of Los Angeles, the 29-year-old Beasley will have a chance this season to prove that he has adapted to the modern NBA and can be an asset to a team. Whether or not he sticks with the Lakers long-term is a question for another day.
But for now, both Beasley and the Lakers will hope that he can provide scoring punch off the bench for a team that is expected to be in the playoffs this season.