BOB BAUM, AP Sports Writer
PHOENIX (AP) — The Phoenix Suns and Michael Beasley have reached an agreement to terminate the contract of the troubled forward.
The move on Tuesday will cost the franchise $7 million, a $2 million savings from what Beasley would have been due had he simply been waived. It also represents a significant reduction in what the hit on the team’s salary cap would have been.
Beasley was arrested a month ago in suburban Scottsdale on charges of felony marijuana possession and possession of drug paraphernalia. It was the latest in a series of incidents involving the drug that have plagued his NBA career after he was selected as the No. 2 overall draft pick out of Kansas State in 2008.
“The Suns were devoted to Michael Beasley’s success in Phoenix,” Suns President for Basketball Operations Lon Babby said in a statement released by the team. “However, it is essential that we demand the highest standards of personal and professional conduct as we develop a championship culture.
“Today’s action reflects our commitment to those standards.”
The Suns took a chance on Beasley despite his history of off-the-court problems.
In June 2011, Beasley was ticketed for marijuana possession and speeding in a Minneapolis suburb. He has acknowledged that while he was with the Miami Heat, he twice violated the NBA’s drug policy and entered a treatment facility in 2009.
But at the news conference announcing his signing of a three-year, $18 million contract with Phoenix, Beasley vowed that his marijuana days were over.
“I realize 10 minutes of feeling good is not really worth putting my life and my career and my legacy in jeopardy,” he said then, “so I’m confident to say that that part of my career, that part of my life, is over and won’t be coming back.”
But early on Aug. 6, his Mercedes was pulled over for a traffic stop and a Scottsdale officer said he smelled marijuana. Police said they found three marijuana cigarettes in the car Beasley was driving.
Lance Blanks was Suns general manager when Beasley was signed and enthusiastically supported the acquisition. Blanks was fired at the end of last season and replaced by Ryan McDonough, who hired new coach Jeff Hornacek and has overseen a wholesale change in the roster after the Suns compiled the worst record in the Western Conference and second-worst in franchise history.
“We have high standards for all of our players,” McDonough said. “We expect them to represent the team and the community in a positive manner both on and off the court.”
On the court, Beasley’s one season with the Suns was a disappointing one. He averaged career lows of 10.1 points and 3.8 rebounds in 75 games while shooting a career-worst 40.5 percent from the field.
Beasley’s agent, Jeff Schwartz, did not respond to email or phone requests for comment.
Beasley, 24, has played five seasons in the NBA, two with Miami, two with Minnesota and one with Phoenix. He is averaging 14.1 points per game for his career.
The Suns’ recent trade of Caron Butler to Milwaukee created $6 million in salary cap room to soften the financial blow to the Suns.
“The timing and nature of this, and all our transactions,” Babby said, ” are based on the judgment of our basketball leadership as to how best to achieve our singular goal of rebuilding an elite team.”
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