It took Malik Beasley all of one game to endear himself to the Timberwolves’ starving fan base a couple of months ago.
In his first game rocking a Wolves uniform, Beasley set Target Center ablaze as he launched — and connected — one three-pointer after another to lead the revamped Wolves to a stunning 142-115 blowout of the Los Angeles Clippers at Target Center.
The 23-year-old guard finished with 23 points in his debut, shot 7 of 13 from long range, and provided a glimpse into the future after the Wolves acquired him from the Denver Nuggets at the NBA trade deadline.
Those types of efforts continued over the next month as Beasley averaged 20.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 1.9 assists in 14 games with the Wolves before the league was shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s unclear what the NBA is going to do at this point.
There have been talks of playing out the rest of the season in neutral locations like Las Vegas and Disney World. There’s also a very good chance that the season doesn’t resume in any capacity as COVID-19 continues to spread across the country.
If the latter is the case, that muddies the waters for Beasley and the Wolves.
Fresh off the best stretch of his career, Beasley will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season, which means president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas might have to open up the checkbook to keep him around.
It’s likely some team is willing to offer Beasley big money, or at least a significant raise, though the Wolves would have the right to match any offer since he is a restricted free agent. They also have his Bird Rights, meaning they can exceed the salary cap to sign him.
While neither side is tipping its hand right now, Beasley did press Rosas a little bit this week during a joint Zoom call with members of the media.
“The best thing right now is, regardless, I have to stay in shape and be ready if this season starts or if it’s next season,” Beasley said. “I’ll let Gersson decide the rest of that.”
He immediately followed that comment was a somewhat mischievous grin as Rosas let out a subtle smile in response.
“We are big fans of Malik,” Rosas said. “We paid a very, very strong premium to get him here in Minnesota. We are excited. I think the small sample size we saw with him with the Minnesota Timberwolves showed his potential.”
If anything is clear, it’s that Rosas sees Beasley as a long-term piece of the puzzle, alongside Karl Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell.
“Whether it’s (Beasley) or KAT or D’Angelo, our goal is that they become the best player they can be,” Rosas said. “We have a young group, and the sky it the limit.”