Michael Beasley was already facing an uphill climb to make it back to the NBA. Now, his challenge has grown significantly steeper.
The veteran forward has been suspended for five games by the NBA for violating the league's anti-drug policy, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who also revealed that the failed drug test was not recent. It came during an early-season sabbatical Beasley took when his mother was ill. The free agent last played in the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers. He was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers at the deadline, but was waived. Shortly thereafter, he signed with the Guangdong Southern Tigers in China but became a free agent again when their season concluded.
Interest in him has been tepid so far this offseason due in large part to his performance with the Lakers. After a strong showing with the New York Knicks during the 2017-18 season, Beasley landed a $3.5 million deal from the Lakers with the expectation that he would be one of their primary backups in the frontcourt.
But with LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram taking up most of the minutes at forward, and a deeper-than-expected center rotation of JaVale McGee, Tyson Chandler, Ivica Zubac and Johnathan Williams eliminating the need for a small-ball big man, Beasley spent most of his time on Los Angeles' bench. He appeared in only 26 games, playing an average of 10.7 minutes per contest.
He managed to score 7.0 points per game despite those limited opportunities, but he wasn't particularly efficient in doing so. He attempted only 17 three-pointers all season and made just three of those tries. The Lakers had hoped Beasley could stretch the floor for them, but he avoided three-point shots when his number was called by Luke Walton. His defense was a disappointment as well, though he has never been known for his play on that end of the floor.
When the Lakers decided to pursue Mike Muscala in a similar role, Beasley served as little more than salary filler. The Clippers waived him immediately, and he has received little interest from NBA teams since. Demand for high-profile scoring forwards off of the bench that do not defend or shoot three-pointers very well is quite limited. Carmelo Anthony is in a similar position.
A suspension won't help matters, especially given his prior history. Beasley was arrested in 2013 on suspicion of marijuana possession, and was waived by the Phoenix Suns shortly thereafter. Teams were already skeptical of Beasley's declining performance. With his reliability now in question as well, things only figure to get harder for the former No. 2 overall pick from this point forward.