by Mark Janssen
MANHATTAN, Kan. - National Basketball Association trade talk is swirling with much of the chatter involving former Kansas State All-American Michael Beasley.
To that, the former Wildcat laughs as he says, "If it happens, it happens. Honestly, I'm hoping the league will put a franchise in Manhattan, Kansas. I could get excited about that."
But now, he repeats, "If it happens, it happens. No hard feelings for anybody. It's life. It's the game. Got to move on. I really don't want to leave Miami. I hope I don't get traded, but if I do, I've got to love life, keep living."
Beasley, who returned to Manhattan this week to see friends, just completed his second NBA season with the Miami Heat where he averaged 14.8 points on 45 percent shooting from the field (27 percent from 3-point range) and 80 percent from the line, plus pulled down 6.4 rebounds per game.
While his numbers were up from his rookie season - 13.9 points and 5.4 rebounds - Beasley said, "The year was up and down ... not as I expected, but I'm getting better."
Overall, he added, "I'm pleased because I played hard and never gave up. But I'm not pleased because I was inconsistent."
With maturity always being an issue with Beasley, he now says, "It's like any job. You learn as you go. You don't go in knowing it all the first day. I'm as mature as I need to be as a 21-year-old living life."
"Don't expect nothing from me, and you'll be happy after every game. I'm tired of expectations," Beasley said of the pressure he's faced as a No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft and the mega-salary that goes with it. "I was supposed to be this. I was supposed to be that. I'm going to play basketball and be who I am."
Beasley was the No. 2 choice in the 2008 NBA Draft following his record-shattering freshman year at K-State in 2007-08 when he averaged 26.2 points per game and a nation-leading 14.2 rebounds per game.
"I love Manhattan and loved being at K-State, but it was a decision I had to make for a lot of people," said Beasley of leaving the Wildcat program after just one year. "I love my life now, but I do miss Manhattan."
The 6-foot-10, 235-pounder said he followed "every game" this past year and was the Wildcats' "tallest cheerleader."
"I followed them when they weren't ranked, to when they were No. 20, to when they were No. 5. Every night they played, I was paying attention," said Beasley, who would have been a junior this past season.
Gazing off into nowhere, Beasley added, "If me and Bill (Walker, who also entered the draft early) would have stayed around, we would have won the national championship."
Of this year's KSU team, Beasley said, "They played hard. They played hard on defense, grabbed all the rebounds and took charges. They played with a passion."
Turning to the current NBA playoffs, Beasley's prediction is that the Los Angeles Lakers will win it all, primarily because of Kobe Bryant, who along with LeBron James, he says, "... are the best players in the league, along with Ray Allen. Kobe is so good and plays with so much poise."
Pausing, and without being questioned on the topic, Beasley offered, "It's a level that I will be at some day."