Taking a look at Malik Beasley’s contract situation

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 12: Malik Beasley #5 of the Minnesota Timberwolves dunks the ball. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 12: Malik Beasley #5 of the Minnesota Timberwolves dunks the ball. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves acquired Malik Beasley this past trade deadline in a deal that sent Robert Covington to Houston. Beasley, a restricted free agent this coming offseason, is one of the better players in a talent-stricken free agency class.

Being a restricted free agent, it’s important to remember that Minnesota has the opportunity to match any contract offer Beasley gets this summer. Restricted free agents can be dangerous though, as often time it results in overpays.

One example of this is Allen Crabbe (ironically on the Timberwolves currently). Crabbe, a restricted free agent back in 2017, signed a four-year offer sheet worth $75 million with the Brooklyn Nets. The Portland Trail Blazers then matched that contract, meaning Crabbe, who averaged 10 points the year prior, would be retained by the Trail Blazers.

Malik Beasley will be a case study, though. The main reason he was dealt by the Denver Nuggets was due to him being in a contract year and still not receiving much playtime. The Nuggets had already filled out their guard rotation, heavily investing money in Jamal Murray and Gary Harris.

The problem with this, though, is that Beasley has been proven to be much better when given a consistent amount of minutes — and that will be his main negotiation point with the Timberwolves during free agency.

When given between 10-19 minutes per game, Beasley has shooting splits of 38/30/84. This is wildly inefficient and likely why Denver was unable to utilize him in a smaller role within their rotation.

However, in about a 60-game sample size, when Beasley gets between 20-29 minutes per game, those splits skyrocket to an objectively efficient 45/40/79. Beasley’s offensive rating jumps from 93 to 111 as well. His turnovers also go down.

All of this means Beasley could command upwards of $20 million in free agency, especially with there not being many ‘stars’ available. After averaging over 20 points per game in a Timberwolves uniform, he is ready to be compensated, but there has to be a line drawn as to how much he should make.

If Beasley does not get any major interest in the open market, he may opt to sign his qualifying offer, which would make him an unrestricted free agent in 2021. While this is unlikely and a very risky move, it has been done before by players in similar situations (most notably Nerlens Noel).

One option is to give Beasley a short term deal with a higher sum of money on a per-year basis. Somewhere along the lines of two-years, $42 million. This gives Beasley more of a chance to prove himself while also making a great deal of money per season.

Minnesota could also opt to give Beasley a long-term deal with less money per season. This is the most common option for rookie-contract players entering free agency. Beasley is a risk for any team that signs him but has shown a great deal of promise. One possible outcome is a four-year, $70 million contract. This averages about to $17.5 million per year. While this is probably near the top of what Beasley could be earning, it also would not be surprising if his contract ended up somewhere between $12 and $15 million per year.

The most likely outcome is that the Timberwolves have to match any offer Beasley gets via an offer sheet. Again, this outcome is the most random of the previous scenarios discussed. It is impossible to know how the NBA values him, but the Timberwolves clearly do. It would ultimately be surprising if he landed anywhere other than Minnesota.

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