MINNEAPOLIS — Michael Beasley apparently couldn’t score enough buckets to ensure a permanent spot in the rotation once Tim Hardaway Jr. is back to full minutes.
Hardaway is questionable for the Knicks’ game Friday against the Timberwolves, but will play limited minutes if he does. Hornacek said once Hardaway is back fully, Beasley will go back to his sporadic playing time — including the occasional DNP — in sharing the backup forward role with defensive specialist Lance Thomas.
Beasley, whose teammates now call him “WB,” short for his self-proclaimed moniker “Walking Bucket,” sounded resigned to knowing things will change.
He’s been an offensive monster in Hardaway’s absence as he returned Friday to his old workplace at Target Center. Minnesota was the second stop on his rocky journey, which has included stints with six NBA teams and two Chinese clubs.
In the last 12 games, the southpaw forward has averaged 19.1 points on 53.5 percent shooting – and he’s made 9 of 18 shots from 3-point land. He’s also collected 7.9 rebounds in that span.
“If I play, I play, if I don’t, I don’t,’’ said Beasley, who was with the Wolves from 2010-2012. “Same tune. Same song. Honestly no, [I’m not surprised]. I’m used to it at this point. Doing what the team needs. Doing what the team asks. If they don’t ask for anything, then I don’t do anything.
“I enjoy playing basketball. I’m used to dramatic change and ups and down. If something happens where I don’t play anymore, I can’t cry about it. I got to look forward to tomorrow. At this point God has granted me the serenity. I’m OK with what doesn’t happen.’’
The Knicks coaching staff is in a conundrum because they want to be a defense-first club and that’s all that Thomas brings. But is it enough to keep Beasley benched?
“Maybe it’s a benefit but it makes it harder,’’ Hornacek said of the roster. “Some nights it will work when you go one way or another. Other nights it doesn’t work and it’s like, ‘Why didn’t you put in the other guy?’ We got multiple guys who can play. Every guy on this team lends something.
“We got to focus on defense and continue that. Some nights it might be Lance. If we’re dying for points, go to Mike. Nobody likes to be labeled as one of type of player. That’s what it is. That’s what their strengths are. One guy is stronger in one area.’’
It’s been a similar saga in a lot of his stops – unable to solidify a firm role. Except in Minnesota, where former Wolves coach and current Knicks associate coach Kurt Rambis rolled with him in one season together before he got fired.
Rambis lobbied the Knicks to sign Beasley over the summer.
“Good and bad,’’ Beasley said of his memories. “You get used to the weather pretty quick out here. At 20, 25 degrees, you come around and I start wearing my sandals.
“It definitely feels bittersweet. Lost a lot of games. Met a lot of cool people. Met Kurt Rambis – one of my favorite people.”
It was Rambis who reached out to Beasley this summer to begin the recruitment.
“He’s great guy, great coach,’’ Beasley said. “He needed another year to get that young group together.”