Despite the controversy and trade rumors that continuously swirl around Michael Beasley, the polarizing former No. 2 overall draft pick doesn't sound as if he's played his final game with the Miami Heat just yet.
Speaking at an adidas promotional event in Spain, Beasley was quoted in a Hoopshype blog posted Monday morning saying he hopes to stay in Miami and plans to play in next month's summer league.
The Heat will send a team of new draft picks (center Dexter Pittman, forward Jarvis Varnado) last year's draft pick (guard Pat Beverley) and lower-level free agents who seek invitations to October training camp.
In many ways, Beasley is playing for his Heat future at the present, too.
Having said privately for months that he hopes to get one more shot to make things right with the Heat after two seasons of inconsistent play, locker room immaturity and uncomfortable off-the-court issues, Beasley's willing to take an unusual step to prove it.
"I'm going to play summer league. Pretty much don't stop," Beasley said in the interview from Spain. "I haven't had any vacation. I just went straight to working out. I feel I can do a lot to improve my game to help the team and take us further in the playoffs."
The Heat confirmed Monday that Beasley wasn't just blowing smoke. He was one of a handful of players team president Pat Riley has been trying to encourage to play in the Las Vegas Summer League, with the Heat opening its five-game schedule July 11.
Beasley and Chalmers are the only Heat players under guaranteed contracts for the 2010-11 season. But that is expected to soon change with free agency starting on Thursday. Miami had also been trying to get Daequan Cook to play summer league before he was traded last week along with the No. 18 pick in the draft to help create more salary-cap space.
Beasley and Chalmers remain development projects entering their third seasons in the league. So summer league is probably a good thing for both. Beasley has average about 15 points and 7 boards through his first two seasons, but still has several more levels to go before he becomes the player the Heat needs.
The problem is, he doesn't have long to get there - and he might have to go elsewhere to finally arrive. If you take Riley at his word last week, when he said Beasley wouldn't be dealt just to create more cap space and that the team hopes to build around him, there is reason for Beasley supporters to be encouraged.
But in times like these - amid the free agency frenzy and desperate push to rebuild teams into title contenders on the fly - it's tough to believe anything anyone says. Riley included. Beasley, too.
For the record, I'm not one who believes the Heat is just plain better off without Beasley. Right now, he's just not the No. 2 option to Dwyane Wade that many hoped he would be as soon as he stepped into the league. But I see no problem sliding Beasley to a third, fourth or fifth option on the team.
If Mike Beasley is your fourth-best player after a free agency overhaul, then that says something about the depth of your team. In that role, he's essentially the Heat's mid-level option, with that $5 million salary he's due next season. Look at it like that, and Beas can be seen as a bargain and much less a burden.
For his part, Beasley hopes to join a Chris Bosh or Amare Stoudemire next season in Miami - not be replaced by one of them. He also believes Wade will stay in Miami because Wade "already has laid his foundation."
Regarding his own personal development, Beasley suggested his is often overly criticized, although he admits to making plenty of mistakes.
"Everybody makes mistakes and I feel like sometimes mine have been magnified," Beasley, 21, said. "I feel like I'm expected to act older than what I am. I'm not saying that's a reason to do some of the things I've done. But, you know, I'm like everybody else. I make mistakes, learn from them and move on."
Sort through the public support of Beasley and the recent behind-the-scenes bartering for his services on the trade front, and the question still lingers.
Mike Beasley apparently is headed to Vegas.
But what are the odds his next game will be as a member of the Miami Heat - even with the watered down version that gathers in the coming days for mini-camp in advance of summer league play?