Sources: Heat clear space, deal Beasley
But they had to virtually give away the No. 2 overall pick from the 2008 draft to do so.
Sources close to the situation told ESPN.com that the Heat agreed Thursday night to a trade that will send Beasley to the Minnesota Timberwolves, who can simply absorb Beasley into empty salary-cap space and furnish Miami with additional financial flexibility to continue the dramatic transformation of its roster.
To complete the trade, Minnesota must only part with a 2011 second-round pick to acquire Beasley. The teams have also agreed to a swap of unspecified future first-round picks.
As ESPN.com reported earlier Thursday, Miami was previously working on a four-team trade that would have turned the Heat's acquisition of Chris Bosh into a sign-and-trade with the Toronto Raptors while also sending Beasley to the Charlotte Bobcats. The Houston Rockets were also involved in that deal, which called for the Rockets to ship swingman Jared Jeffries to Charlotte and take back Bobcats center Tyson Chandler.
The Raptors, though, have held firm all week on their determination to participate in a Bosh sign-and-trade only if they have to take back draft picks, while also creating a large trade exception through Bosh's departure. The four-way proposal, which was introduced Wednesday, would have required Toronto to take back at least $3.1 million in contracts from Houston, which the Raptors were unwilling to do.
The Heat and Raptors have been exchanging sign-and-trade proposals for the past two days since Bosh and Dwyane Wade committed Wednesday to signing with the Heat in a package deal. Now that the Heat are no longer asking Toronto to take back Beasley, sources say that a Bosh sign-and-trade that could net him a six-year deal as opposed to a five-year deal is likely to go through by week's end, with Toronto getting the package (draft considerations and a trade exception) it wanted from the start.
The Wolves -- who have been aggressively shopping power forward Al Jefferson in various trade scenarios for weeks -- have a logjam in the frontcourt that extends beyond the ill-matched pairing of Jefferson and Kevin Love, having recently signed free agents Darko Milicic and Nikola Pekovic.
But Minnesota, sources said, is convinced that it will trade Jefferson before the start of next season and felt it couldn't pass up the opportunity to acquire a talent like Beasley without surrendering any assets.
Beasley has averaged 14.3 points and 5.9 rebounds in his two seasons since the Heat drafted him out of Kansas State. But trading the lefty power forward proved more difficult than Miami anticipated, thanks to lingering questions about the 21-year-old's maturity after various off-court missteps.
The move technically leaves Mario Chalmers as the only Heat player under contract until Miami's new star trio all sign contracts, but Beasley's exit will create sufficient cap space for Heat president Pat Riley to offer max-contract money to James, Wade and Bosh.
All three players, however, have spoken this week of their willingness to accept less than max money to help Miami fill the many holes on the roster created by the aggressive roster-stripping crusade Riley has been on since training camp.
Sources said that the Heat have not abandoned hope of convincing free-agent swingman Mike Miller to sign in Miami once they determine exactly what sort of first-year salaries with work for the Team USA trio.
Miami has also begun looking at minimum-salary options for its backcourt, with a search that sources say has focused on Heat alumni Jason Williams, Mike James and Keyon Dooling along with Earl Watson.
Sources added that the Heat -- so confident that they would eventually manufacture a deal -- told Beasley on Wednesday to prepare to be dealt and asked him to scrap a voluntary workout Thursday morning on the Heat's practice floor. Charlotte was highly motivated to acquire him, sources said, but Minnesota had the requisite cap space to do so without involving any other team.
Marc Stein is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. Chad Ford covers the NBA for ESPN.com.
• Began covering the NBA in 1993-94
• Also covered soccer, tennis and the Olympics