Michael Beasley And The Lakers’ Eternal Search For A Small Forward

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May 6, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat forward Michael Beasley (8) warms up prior to a game against the Brooklyn Nets in game one of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Its easy to forget that once upon a time, we felt that way about Lamar Odom. The point is, with the right structure, Michael Beasley could turn it around and be a productive starter in the NBA. He is only 25 years old after all.

It is within this context that the Los Angeles Lakers are flirting with adding the mercurial combo forward. The team has worked him out twice since the NBA draft. Beasley, if signed, would be the Lakers most talented small forward on the roster. The question, as always, would be which Beasley would you be getting. Would you get the Minnesota Timberwolves Michael Beasley who averaged nearly 20 points a game in the 2010-2011 season, or the Phoenix Suns version who couldn’t beat out Jared Dudley and was immediately considered a locker room cancer.

No one knows.

At this point, Beasley is a last ditch option for teams in need of talent who also believe in the power of their organizational structure. On a struggling team, Beasley could be a distraction. On a championship contender, there would be little patience for his shortcomings.

A team in flux, but with a strong leadership tradition like the Lakers, are, in many ways, the last hope for him. Mentorship from Kobe Bryant is the strongest justification for signing Beasley. Its possible in those circumstances, he could morph  into the player so many felt was preordained for greatness. In recent years during the Bryant era, the Lakers have served as a proving ground for reclamation projects from other corners of the NBA. Ariza went from journeyman prospect to established starter. Lamar Odom went from talented but troubled to Sixth Man of the Year and champion. Even the bon vivant Nick Young, after years of floating from team to team, has found a home with the Lakers.

The team should sign Beasley and assign him a prominent role off the bench. In Los Angeles, he could develop the work ethic that could match his prodigious talent. The Lakers have nothing to lose, but Beasley has everything to gain. It could be that Kobe Bryant’s lasting impact on the franchise is instilling work habits for the Laker’s next generation of stars. If there’s a team that needs to gamble on a player its the Lakers, if there is a player in need of being ensconced in the legendary tradition of the Lakers, its Beasley.

A marriage of convenience can, with the proper nurturing and counseling, evolve into a grand union. With a legacy of success rapidly passing by, and few prospects on the horizon, the Lakers are in the business of trying for miracles. Beasley doesn’t have many other chances left, and he eyes the purple and gold knowingly. A back against the wall is often the foundation for transformation.

They both need each other, and they know it.