With free agency approaching over the hillside of the NBA Draft, the Knicks will have to make a decision of whether to pay Michael Beasley or not. Here’s both sides of the argument.

After one year in the Big Apple, it looks like “Carmelo Anthony from the left side of the floor” may be looking for a new home.

Michael Beasley has gained interest from the Atlanta Hawks and Phoenix Suns as a potential free agent acquisition after his large role plugging into the Knicks’ rotation this past season. Since Kristaps Porzingis’ season-derailing injury, Beasley saw an increased role, one that put him in the spotlight as a top scorer for the Knicks.

Beasley arguably compiled the best season of his career during the 2017–18 campaign. He averaged 13.2 points and 5.6 rebounds per game while playing 22 minutes. Although these numbers may not seem alarming, his per-36 minute totals are incredible—averaging 21 points and nine rebounds per game. At moments throughout the season, it finally looked like the former no. 2 overall pick was living up to expectations. This type of stellar play is the exact reason why Beasley is gaining traction in the free agency market.

As for the Knicks, whether to retain Beasley or not is a tough decision but one that the Knicks brass must decide upon in the near future, as free agency heats up come July.

Why the Knicks Should Re-Sign Michael Beasley

Letting go of a top scorer and popular player in the locker room could come back to haunt the Knicks. Since his arrival, Beasley has made an enormous impact for the Knicks, far exceeding expectations. For the past few seasons, Beasley has been playing on league minimum contracts due to his average, journeyman play. With the Knicks, Beasley flourished on the court and gained widespread attention throughout the league for his play.

As a result, the Knicks will have competition with other teams during free agency if they want to bring him back. With the no. 9 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Knicks could look to take a forward (Mikal Bridges, Miles Bridges, etc.) that would take Beasley’s role. However, it would be detrimental for the Knicks to let one of their top scorer options walk and assume that a rookie will step in and fill his shoes seamlessly. Although it makes sense for the Knicks to take a forward in the draft, it does not mean that they should let Beasley walk. At age 29 and approaching his 10th year in the league, Beasley provides vital veteran experience to a predominantly young team. By retaining him, the Knicks keep one of their top scorers and have the opportunity to let him develop their young talent. As a top scorer, fan/locker room favorite, and established veteran, Beasley is an important part of the roster.

Letting Beas walk would be a risky move, one that would cause an immediate gap in scoring production and could affect the chemistry of the team. It also helps that new head coach David Fizdale has prior experience with Beasley, during his time as an assistant with the Miami Heat. Although free agency has yet to kick off, Fiz has made it clear that both sides would like to work out a deal to keep the “Walking Bucket” in NYC.

Why the Knicks Should Let Beasley Walk

Money. At the end of the day, just like all other professional sports, the NBA is a business. The Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks have expressed interest in Beasley and both clubs have more cap space available than the Knicks. Therefore, if money is the main concern for Beasley, it looks like his time in New York is over. The Knicks are interested in re-signing Beasley but will have to use either some or all of their $8.6 million mid-level exception. With the Bucks and Hawks having the ability to offer more money, it would be surprising if Beasley does not demand the full $8.6 million from the Knicks.

At that point, the Knicks would have to decide if they should use the money on Beasley or not. If that is the case, it would be wise for the Knicks to let Beasley walk, draft his replacement and use the money for other free agent acquisitions. The Knicks are interested in a variety of forwards in the upcoming draft, and should they decide to select one, Michael would no longer be needed. At age 29, Beasley is not a long-term solution for the Knicks. Therefore, if given the chance, the Knicks could draft their forward of the future and throw him into the fold immediately.

Although Beasley has made an impact offensively, he’s certainly a liability on the defensive side of the ball. The Knicks could use the money saved by letting Beasley walk to sign a more defensive-minded forward to pair with their upcoming draft selection. It was a good one-year run for Beasley filled with many highs and lows. From garnering MVP chants after a 32-point showing versus the Celtics to fouling out in 10 minutes and receiving a standing ovation from the Garden, Beasley sure has been entertaining to watch. However, it’s time that the Knicks use their money in a different direction and draft their forward of the future.

The Knicks have a big decision looming with Beasley, one that will not be easy for Knicks management.