Just 24 hours after losing Khris Middleton to a torn hamstring, the Milwaukee Bucks are making moves.
The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Bucks are on the verge of trading third-year point guard Tyler Ennis to the Houston Rockets for veteran forward Michael Beasley:
With Milwaukee losing Khris Middleton for six months with torn hamstring, Beasley becomes a stop-gap forward for the season.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) September 22, 2016
Word is Bucks and Rockets were talking about deal before Middleton suffered torn left hamstring on Tuesday.— cfgardner (@cf_gardner) September 22, 2016
Bucks have enough PGs now and Ennis would have been struggling to get playing time behind Dellavedova and MCW, also Giannis handling ball.— cfgardner (@cf_gardner) September 22, 2016
While the 22-year-old Ennis faced an uphill battle for minutes, the decision to use an asset to acquire a score-first combo forward like Beasley still remains a bit of a head-scratcher. It’s not because Beasley can’t play or that his scoring instincts won’t be of use for a team that just lost its leading scorer; he returned from a stint in China to score in bushels for the Rockets last year, and all indications are that he was on his best behavior both before and after he signed on the cheap with Houston back in March (he’ll be paid just $1.4 million this season). Bear in mind that Beasley shared a locker room with Jason Terry in Houston, so you’d imagine that the Bucks wouldn’t have made this deal without an endorsement from JET.
Either way, Beasley won’t directly address the massive hole the Bucks have at Middleton’s shooting guard spot, which would corroborate Charles Gardner’s report that a deal was in the works even prior to the Middleton injury. It would also suggest the Bucks will continue to look for ways to reinforce their lack of depth at the two, or perhaps that they think they can make do by using their combo guards (Michael Carter-Williams, Matthew Dellavedova, Malcolm Brogdon and Jason Terry) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (oversized as he might be for defending twos) to soak up some of Middleton’s minutes.
The former number two overall pick in the 2008 draft, the 27-year-old Beasley has struggled to find a home in the NBA; the Bucks will make his sixth stop in eight years. For all his talents as scorer, Beasley has been dogged by defensive indifference and a reputation for being, well, less than serious about his craft, which is why many fans will likely be turned off by the mere idea of adding him to the fold in Milwaukee. On the court he’s always been able to score, including a career-high 25.3 points/36 minutes and 22.5 PER last year off the bench in Houston, but he’s no more than a middling perimeter shooter (34.3% from three in his career, though a more encouraging 40.5% from the corners) whose high-usage ways (29.7% last year) make him best suited to coming off the bench.
In other words, Beasley’s best moments probably won’t come when he’s sharing the court with Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo, but his scoring could certainly help buoy backup units when one or both of the Bucks’ young scoring forwards are resting. The big question is whether his ball-stopping ways and defensive issues will neutralize his scoring contributions; that’s always been the obvious knock on him, though at this stage of his career he seems to have come to terms with the fact that he’s not going to be the star he was projected to be after a sensational freshman season at Kansas State. Utilized the right way, his bench scoring could prove a huge bargain for a Bucks team that struggled to score efficiently last year — just don’t make the mistake of viewing him as a replacement for Middleton.