TARRYTOWN, N.Y. -- Michael Beasley says he "would love New York to be my home," but he's not here to replace Carmelo Anthony.
The 28-year-old Beasley, a former No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft, signed a one-year, $2.1 million contract with the Knicks in August for the NBA's veteran minimum. Some speculate that he was brought in as a primary scorer -- something he's always done well -- in the event the Knicks trade Anthony. But he says that isn't the case.
"I don't think of that at all," Beasley, who has career averages of 9.4 points and 3.4 rebounds, said Tuesday at the Knicks' training facility. "I don't know what's going on. I don't watch anybody else's saga but my own and I'm looking forward to playing with Carmelo. Anything else is the organization and the coaches and him but I'm looking forward to having a great year with Melo and finally making the playoffs."
Originally from Maryland, Beasley has known Anthony since he was 13 years old and says he patterned his game after Anthony, who remains the subject of trade rumors and has two years and $54 million left on his contract.
"Carmelo's been my mentor," Beasley said. "If you really watch my game, my jab series, and all that, I'm literally just Carmelo on the left side of the floor. I've known Carmelo since I was 13 years old. I can't wait to play with him."
Beasley is also best friends with Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant, who was the No. 1 pick in the 2009 NBA Draft the year after Beasley went No. 2 out of Kansas State. While Durant has become one of the best players in the NBA and now has a championship ring, Beasley has bounced around with multiple franchises, and even had two stints in China.
Asked if what Durant has accomplished motivated him, Beasley said: "Yeah, definitely. It's a bittersweet moment. I feel like I should be there. But, you know, that's my own fault. But as far as him, I'm proud of everything he's done. I'm proud of the decision he made last summer, I'm proud of him winning the championship and MVP. I'm proud of what's coming next for him. He has potential to be the best player ever and who wouldn't be proud of that? I can call the best player ever my brother. Do your thing bro. That's great."
As for his own career, Beasley knows "everybody looks at me as a bust," but he's not dwelling on the past.
"Sitting here harping on the past -- it just wastes time," he said. "Do I wish it could be different? Yes. Do I wish my career could have been more lucrative than it has been so far? But like I said, harping on the past does nothing, all I can do is pray for this opportunity, pray that this can be a better one and play basketball -- have fun."
During the summer, he worked out in Atlanta with trainer Sean Crawford. He lost about 20 pounds, going to 215 from about 235 while changing his diet.
"Yeah, man, I cut my diet," he said. "No more sugar, I eat two burgers or two steaks a month, one chicken sandwich a week, I'm like literally a step from vegan."
Crawford says Beasley is now "refocused" and ready to go.
"Just refocused in a big city," Crawford told SNY.tv by phone. "The past couple years he's been under-rated and underappreciated and I think he's going to change a lot of that being here in New York." Bill Barton, who coached Beasley for one season at Notre Dame Prep, also thinks Beasley is poised for a breakout year.
"I just think he can score and if you can score, you're going to play for the Knicks this year," Barton said by phone. "He's always scored in the NBA. They're in a position this year where they're going to need points and he gives them exactly what they need."
Beasley can score, but can he defend? That's never been his forte, but he says don't count him out on the defensive end.
"I am not as bad a defender as you say I am," he said.
"Not a lot of people can score on me on the ball. But like I said, it's a team defense, we've got schemes....So as long as we have fun, as long as we enjoy each other. As long as we talk, defense is the easy part. Like my philosophy now is long as we have fun on defense, offense will be a blast." One Las Vegas sports book has the Knicks winning 30.5 games, but Beasley has high hopes for the playoffs.
"Do I see us better than a 30-win team in Vegas?" he asked. "Listen, I don't even go to Vegas. So yeah I do. I think we've got a position to be not only a playoff team but a five, six seed team if we do it right."
Whether he ultimately has to replace Anthony as the Knicks' primary scorer remains to be seen -- Anthony could be dealt at any time -- but Beasley wants to stay in New York for the long term. "I'm tired of moving, bro," he said. "I'm tired of moving. I'm really getting tired of moving. I want a home. I'd love New York to be my home."