Postgame: Beasley sprains foot, creates opening in lineup

  • Blog Post by: Jerry Zgoda
  • January 7, 2012 - 2:31 AM

Call me an eternal optimist -- and practically everybody who knows me does -- but I'm saying the Wolves' 98-87 loss to Cleveland on Friday night might be a good thing.

Hear me out here.

Not that you ever hope anyone ever gets injured, but...

I was telling someone before the game that losing Michael Beasley for a limited time -- a week or two, maybe a five-game suspension which might be coming once his summer pot arrest winds its way through the legal system -- just might be the best thing for the Wolves if it allows them to, makes them take a real, longer look at Wes Johnson at small forward.

Then Beasley sprained his right foot late in Friday's game and by watching him leave the locker room afterward on crutches and with pain all over his face, you can certainly rule him out for Sunday's game at Washington, his hometown, and probably a good bit longer. (He already was playing hurt with those five stitches in the index finger on his shooting hand).

That creates an opening for the time being at small forward.

Johnson was again mostly invisible offensively against the Cavs while starting at shooting guard and playing little more than 17 minutes.

After the game, Rick Adelman attributed his team's troubles this night mostly to its offense rather defense -- now that's a switch, isn't it.

He lamented the team's lack of ball handlers, stating that, with J.J. Barea out, the Wolves have nowhere to turn after Ricky Rubio and Luke Ridnour.

Yes, Johnson's inability to handle the ball will still exist at the small-forward spot, but perhaps putting him there for a stretch -- arguably his most natural position -- will help him find the player he showed signs of becoming last season.

He admitted after the game that he's not himself, saying he's thinking way too much, not "letting it flow," even saying his mind sometimes seem outside his body with all that overthinking a game that has been natural to him all his life.

Maybe the chance to get away from his notion that he can be turned into a shooting guard will help.

Maybe not.

Still, it's an experiment that needs to be done with some conviction before you write him off and trade him for a legitimate shooting guard while his value is down, which more and more fans seem to be calling for by the day.

Johnson and rookie Derrick Williams are two of the guys they'll have to turn to if Beasley's out for any extended time.

So...I say you use his absence to move Ricky Rubio into the starting lineup beside Luke Ridnour to get your two ball-handlers in there and then use Wayne Ellington as needed to spell both point guards.

(It sure would be nice if Martell Webster and  Malcolm Lee were healthy, wouldn't it?)

Then start Johnson at small forward and spell him with Williams, Anthony Tolliver and Anthony Randolph.

Now I know many of you will call for Williams to start and get the minutes there, but they've used him very sparingly at small forward because they wanted him to concentrate on learning just one spot, the power-forward position.

The Wolves have played Johnson some at the 3 the last two years, but not enough to let him really get his rhythm there.

It's time to try it and see if it indeed will make a difference.

One tidbit from Friday night:

Rob Pelinka -- the agent for both Johnson and Williams as well as a guy named Kobe Bryant -- was at tonight's game.

Not sure if it was a regular visit to his clients or something more.

Here's the game story from Friday's game with comments from both Johnson and Beasley about their recent struggles.

And the notebook.

That's all for Friday.

I've got a flight to Washington tomorrow for that quick two-game trip to play the Wizards Sunday afternoon and Raptors on Monday.

Kent's got practice on Saturday. He'll blog at you then.



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