PHOENIX - Michael Beasley remained a Timberwolf in body and spirit Wednesday, practicing with the team in Phoenix before catching its flight to Utah while knowing there's a chance he could play against his teammates as soon as Friday night.
While he carried on, the Wolves pursued deals -- namely a three-team arrangement that would send Beasley to the Los Angeles Lakers and bring back shooting guard Jamal Crawford from Portland -- ahead of Thursday's 2 p.m. trade deadline.
"I'm just a pawn in this game," Beasley said after practice. "L.A., Boston, New Jersey, Orlando, anywhere ... I mean, if they decide to move me, then I've got to go. I'm not saying I want to, but it's something I have no control over."
By listing those four destinations, Beasley covered many -- but probably not all -- of the places the former No. 2 overall draft pick purportedly has been headed these past several weeks. The Wolves, now that Ricky Rubio is lost for the season, are searching for another ball-handler who's also a bona fide shooting guard, be it Crawford, Orlando's Jason Richardson, New Jersey's Anthony Morrow or Boston's Ray Allen.
Crawford was set to play for Portland at New York on Wednesday, but was scratched from the lineup just before an embarrassing 42-point loss to the Knicks.
The Lakers reportedly are interested in Beasley.
The Wolves and Lakers are scheduled to play Friday night at Staples Center.
"I'd love to stay here," Beasley said.
Beasley has been through this before, traded by Miami to Minnesota in July 2010 for two future second-round picks after the Heat decided it'd rather sign reliable veterans than keep salary-cap space for Beasley after LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh decided to combine their talents not far from South Beach.
"It don't make it no easier," said Beasley, who the Heat drafted second overall in 2008. "It's the same thing: Got to up and move. I've got a nice-sized house with a lot of things inside of it. I'd rather stay. If I've got to go, it's just business."
Beasley, 23, has been sidelined by ankle and foot injuries during his time with the Wolves and was ticketed last June for marijuana possession while stopped for a traffic violation. He was moved to a scoring role off the bench 25 games ago, after missing 11 games because of a sprained foot.
The Wolves pursued Crawford, who will turn 32 on Tuesday, as a free agent in December. They signed J.J. Bared to a four-year contract and still went after the veteran shooting guard, who was named the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year in 2010.
Before a game against the Wolves two weeks ago, he said he came "really close" to signing with Minnesota in December and sounded wistful that he didn't.
He said the Wolves asked him to remain patient while they pursued other matters during the rush to get the shortened season started, but he said he chose Portland over Sacramento because he wanted to get into training camp on time. He signed a two-year contract that allows him to become a free agent this summer if he so chooses.
"I really thought they were a team on the rise," Crawford said then. "I can't take credit and say I saw them being right there in the thick of things [in the playoff race], but I definitely saw them being a lot better than last year. Their young guys have gotten better. I'm a big fan of Coach [Rick] Adelman. He's really laid back. He's an old-school coach. He's got some great, great, great stuff offensively."
Adelman returned the admiration that night in Portland two weeks ago, when he was asked why the Wolves had sought Crawford in free agency.
"He's a scorer, he's a volume scorer," Adelman said. "The thing I was always impressed with was, when the game is on the line he can make shots. He can make something happen. He's a great free-throw shooter. He's got great range. He's just a very good offensive player."