With the Los Angeles Lakers now widely expected to miss the playoffs for a sixth straight season, and 2018 offseason acquisition Michael Beasley currently playing in China after an underwhelming stint in Los Angeles, ESPN reporter Ramona Shelburne recently shed some light on the reasons why the Lakers took a chance on the one-time No. 2 overall draft pick last summer.
According to a report from Silver Screen and Roll, Shelburne appeared on Thursday’s edition of ESPN Los Angeles’ Mason and Ireland podcast. There, she explained that the Lakers allowed then-free agent center Brook Lopez to walk because they believed Beasley could potentially serve as a replacement for forward/center Julius Randle. Per Reuters, Beasley signed with the Lakers on July 23, 2018, a few weeks after Randle left the Lakers to sign with the New Orleans Pelicans. Lopez, meanwhile, signed with the Milwaukee Bucks on July 8, after spending one season with the Lakers, as previously reported by USA Today.
“They let Brook Lopez go, the idea being they chose Michael Beasley over him — which to me is fairly unforgivable — because they had already lost Julius Randle, and they felt that Beasley had a similar skillset to be a small-ball five as Julius Randle did last year when he was a small-ball five with that second unit and sometimes with the first. So they felt like Beasley’s skillset would replace [that],” Silver Screen and Roll quoted Shelburne as saying.
The Lakers reportedly let Brook Lopez walk for Michael Beasley because they thought Beasley could replace what Randle gave them as a small-ball five. https://t.co/TGZUkiv3eH pic.twitter.com/1Am0jsYCxL— Silver Screen & Roll (@LakersSBN) March 14, 2019
Even in the early stages of the 2018-19 NBA season, the Los Angeles Lakers were receiving flak for signing Beasley, Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, and JaVale McGee to complement their big signing, four-time league MVP LeBron James. As previously discussed by Bleacher Report, the past reputations of these veteran additions led some to refer to the quartet as the “meme team,” while one unnamed Western Conference source went as far as to compare them to Steve Urkel, the nerdy, goofy child character played by Jaleel White on the 1990s sitcom Family Matters.
While McGee is currently enjoying his best statistical output in several seasons — with Rondo capably filling in for oft-injured point guard Lonzo Ball — Stephenson and Beasley both struggled to make an impact during their time in Los Angeles. Beasley, in particular, did not come close to matching Randle’s contributions to the Lakers, despite how Shelburne suggested that the Lakers expected him to become a key rotation player. Per Basketball-Reference, he averaged just seven points in 26 games before the team traded him and Ivica Zubac to the Los Angeles Clippers, for Mike Muscala, prior to the February trade deadline.
As noted by Silver Screen and Roll, Beasley never got to play for the Clippers, who waived him soon after the trade. The 30-year-old forward now plays for the Guangdong Southern Tigers in the Chinese Basketball Association.