Basketball / Sports

Stint in Phoenix a distant memory for Heat's Michael Beasley

PHOENIX -- Miami Heat forward Michael Beasley has willingly talked about nearly every subject this season.

He's addressed his recent problems with marijuana abuse. He's had no problem discussing his limited playing time or struggles on the defensive end.

There is, however, one topic Beasley would prefer to avoid.

Tuesday marks the first time he returns to face the Phoenix Suns, the team that waived him last September after the latest of his off-the-court issues. Now, nearly a third of the way through a fresh start, Beasley just wants that part of his life in the rearview.

"This is the first time I've talked about it," Beasley said. "I don't think about it. I don't talk about it. What happened, happened. That's all it is. Like I said, I'm in a great situation. I'm around some great guys."

Moving forward is the goal for Beasley. The focus is on finding ways to become a more consistent contributor in his second stint with the Heat. At times, he's flourished. At times, he's sputtered.

The one constant has been refusing to look back.

"I don't think about how things were," Beasley said. "The only thing I think about is I'm in a great situation. All I do is look forward."

Beasley says he's remained friends with several of his teammates from that one forgettable season in Phoenix. He averaged career-lows across the board, leading to his exit after being arrested for marijuana possession last August.

Beasley said he had no regrets about his time with the Suns.

"I still got friends," Beasley said. "Most of them are on the team. It happened. It is what it is. I'm here now. ... I'm in a perfect situation. I bettered myself as a person. I bettered myself as a basketball player."

The next step for Beasley is consistency.

He's looked like the Heat's fourth scoring option in some stretches. At other times, he's played the role of spectator. Beasley has averaged just two minutes the last five games. He's scored double-figures just three times since Jan. 2, a span of 19 games.

"He's had some highs, he's had some lows and he will continue to have that," guard Dwyane Wade said. "Hopefully he just continues to keep working, continues to keep believing and not losing that confidence. It's going to be somewhere in this run that we're going to need him."

Beasley, who was originally drafted by Miami in 2008, has pushed through because of the Heat's confidence in him on and off the court. Coach Erik Spoelstra has repeatedly said the organization had difficulty trading him after the 2009-10 season. That made for an easy decision to re-sign him last fall.

"It was all of matter of bringing somebody back into our family," Spoelstra said. "We drafted him. We had a connection with family. We had to make the move when we did to be able to assemble this team but none of us really wanted to trade Mike."

The fact Beasley continues to make progress has made it easier to deal with the inconsistencies. Spoelstra said he's seen improvement on both sides of the ball.

"Defensively he's making more efforts, more focus," Spoelstra said. "Offensively, he's able to play our style of game while still being able to be himself and be aggressive. When his number is called, he just has to produce."

For Beasley, it's just a matter of being ready at all times. Being involved in the playoff race for the first time since early in his career should make that an easy task.

"You've got to be professional," Beasley said. "It's just as simple as that. I cannot play for 10 days and get out of shape and get on the court and that's the reason I'm not playing. Your number could be called at any time and you've got to be ready."

(c)2014 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

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