Malik Beasley was one of the three players the Lakers acquired at the trade deadline in exchange for Russell Westbrook. Coming off averaging 13.4 points on 35.9% 3-point shooting in his Utah Jazz stint (which lasted for about 55 games), the addition of Beasley was needed, considering that the Lakers had to address their perimeter shooting concerns during the regular season. There was a role for Beasley right off the bat.
It didn’t take long for the 7-year veteran to earn his minutes despite being one of the new faces on the team. He played a total of 26 regular season games for the Lakers — where he had both great and underwhelming games — as they chased a spot in the Play-In tournament. Beasley was consistently in and out of the lineup and then found himself in a minimized role come Playoff time.
Overall, Beasley’s Lakers tenure provided a glimpse of his value in the league and most likely his future career trajectory. That’s not to say that the sharpshooter won’t be able to revive his career moving forward, but his recent performance in the purple and gold likely dictated where he and the team stand in regards to his future in Los Angeles.
How Was Their Season?
In those 26 regular season games with the Lakers, Beasley averaged 11.1 points, 1.2 assists, and 3.3 rebounds in 35.9% 3-point shooting. Darvin Ham inserted Beasley in the starting lineup as soon as his third game as a Laker and it paid dividends as his ability to space the floor and be a perimeter threat helped improved the Lakers’ offense post-trade deadline.
Despite Beasley missing his first six 3-point attempts as a Laker, Ham’s confidence in him didn’t quickly fade away. The shooting guard had his best performance of the season as soon as his fourth game as a Laker, where he scored 25 points and converted seven out of 11 3-pointers in a win against the Warriors. From there, he was pretty much hot and cold until he found his stride again against the New Orleans Pelicans on the road, where Beasley rendered 20 points on 7-12 shooting in a vital win last March.
In short, Beasley was basically always (and ironically) a hit-or-miss when he was on the court. There’s no question that he helped the Lakers win a couple of games but his weakness was as evident as his strength. He was a defensive weak link (who opponents consistently attacked on that end), and the best way he could overcome that was to produce enough on offense to offset for his liability on defense.
Unfortunately for Beasley, he didn’t get to shoot his way to remain in the starting lineup as he was replaced by Austin Reaves by the end of the season. Still, the former Jazz guard, at the very least, provided quality minutes off the bench at times, averaging 10.0 points in 38.1% shooting in the last 10 games of the season. At that time though, it was already fair to wonder whether or not Beasley could hold up as a rotation piece in the Playoffs.
Turns out, Beasley didn’t crack the seven-man shortened rotation come Playoff time. He totaled just 8.3 minutes a game in the postseason, where he only averaged 3.0 points on 26.9% 3-point shooting in 11 games. He attempted 26 3-pointers in the Playoffs and only converted seven of them. It was clear that Beasley’s game needed a lot of work in order for him to be considered a 16-game player. And that’s why his status with the Lakers remains up in the air.
Should the Lakers Bring Him Back?
In his exit interview, Malik stated that his goal — together with D’Angelo Russell and Jared Vanderbilt — was to change the Lakers’ culture when they arrived in Los Angeles after the trade deadline. He successfully did that and proved that despite his up-and-down performance, there’s value in a player like him, especially in the regular season.
The Lakers will always need shooting around Anthony Davis and LeBron James and for a player that’s currently signed on a team-friendly deal that’s also considered a tradable contract, retaining Beasley won’t hurt. After all, he deserves one whole offseason and a training camp with the Lakers to work on his game and prove his worth. So yes, Beasley is worth bringing back.
Ultimately though, whether or not Beasley stays is solely up to the Lakers and their offseason plans — in terms of potential trades they will pursue and whether or not they want to reach the second tax apron status.
Do you think they will return?
Beasley is under a $16.6M contract with a team option, and as mentioned above, there’s a high chance that he’s the asset that gets moved if there are trades on the table. Depending on the trade offered to the Lakers this summer, it won’t be a surprise if Beasley’s part of the package that also includes Mo Bamba and even their 17th first-round pick in this year’s draft. So, Malik’s status is pretty much up in the air at this point.
If say, there are no trade offers that involve Beasley on the table, then it’ll be up to the Lakers to decide if they want to retain him or just let him walk. Since the season ended, the Lakers have said and leaked multiple times that their goal is to run it back and build off this roster, and one way to do that is to bring guys like Beasley back next season.
Beasley may not be a priority signing over Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura, D’Angelo Russell or even Dennis Schroder, but there are certainly reasons for the Lakers to bring the sharpshooter back.
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