Ever since the Lakers started signing veteran role players to surround LeBron James and fill out their roster, people have wondered about the chemistry of the group and how the personalities would mesh.
Michael Beasley doesn’t think that’s a worthy discussion.
“If everybody does their job right and stops judging some players — me, mainly — you’ll figure out that guys like me and Nick Young and JR Smith and Lance Stephenson and guys like that actually know how to play basketball, actually know how to win basketball games and actually know how to get along with others. It’s nothing to do with my maturity; it’s the total opposite,” Beasley said Monday during a conference call with reporters.
“ … For that to be even be a narrative of personalities in this room is judgment enough for me. I just don’t want to be a part of it.”
The Lakers signed the 29-year-old forward to a one-year, $3.3-million deal on Monday after agreeing to the deal on Friday. Beasley, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2008 draft, is one of four veteran free agents the Lakers added on one-year deals, part of a supporting cast for James, who signed a four-year deal worth $153.3 million.
“It’s going to come together like a basketball team,” Beasley said. “You’ve got 14 guys other than LeBron James that know how to play basketball. … We’re gonna help LeBron just as much as LeBron helps us.”
Beasley said the team had been talking with his agent for weeks. Last week he got a call from Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson, someone Beasley long dreamed of meeting.
“I was trying to keep my emotions professional,” Beasley said.
Asked if it worked, he hesitated: “I had to put the phone on mute once or twice.”
He didn’t offer specifics on what Johnson told him about his role, but said Johnson wanted him to be himself. “Don’t be shy about being myself, just play the right way,” Beasley said.
Along with Beasley, the Lakers added center JaVale McGee and guards Rajon Rondo and Lance Stephenson. For different reasons, all four are known for their distinct personalities.
Although Beasley is often described as having a troubled past — he had a few marijuana-related issues early in his NBA career — he hasn’t had any off-the-court problems in several years. He has been adamant in interviews that those issues are in his past.
He has played for six NBA teams in his 10-year career and for two Chinese teams. Last season he was one of the more consistent players on the New York Knicks, averaging 13.2 points and 5.6 rebounds.
As Monday’s conference call ended, a Lakers staffer thanked reporters for joining as a way of signing off. Beasley jumped in to say one last thing.
“Before y’all go I just want to let y’all know I’m not trying to be difficult or anything like that,” he said. “I just wanted to make the interview about having fun and playing basketball this year.”
Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli