NBA Free Agency: What will Leandro Barbosa Bring to the Boston Celtics Backcourt?


July 16, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; Brazil guard Leandro Barbosa (10) dribbles the ball against the United States in the second half at Verizon Center. Team USA won 80-69. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE

Weeks ago, Boston Celtics GM Danny Ainge said he would not pursue a veteran guard to back up Rajon Rondo.  It appears since that time, Ainge did a ‘180’ and decided to go after one after all.  That choice resulted in the signing of Leandro Barbosa, which was just reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! via Twitter.

Barbosa is not a true point.  He’s a shoot first point guard who often spends time at shooting guard.  It could be said, in fact, that Barbosa is a redundancy of the role already occupied by Jason Terry.  However, Barbosa can adjust to play a more pass-first role due to the fact that the C’s already have plenty of shooters.  It will require adjustment on Barbosa’s part to occupy this role, but he’s been in the league for nine seasons and has the versatility necessary to play the point in a pinch.

Barbosa will not go dropping dimes like Rondo.  His career high for assists per game capped out at four per game in the 2006-07 season, when he also averaged 18 points per game playing for the Phoenix Suns.

Can Barbosa regain that form?

Last season, he played only 22 games for the Indiana Pacers and saw under 20 minutes per night.    He hasn’t seen more than 30 minutes per game since the 2006-07 season, but he is still only 29 years old, so theoretically it shouldn’t be declining talents and athleticism that are holding Barbosa back.

In fact, it’s quite possible that nothing is holding the Brazilian back.  He could end up being one of the best cheap signings of the offseason, though the contract terms have not been released yet.  He lends further versatility to a Boston backcourt, and truth be told, he’s an upgrade from the now-retired Keyon Dooling.  Barbosa doesn’t have quite the same defensive skills of Dooling, but the upgrade in shooting ability and speed will serve the C’s well—especially since they already have a host of very good defenders in the backcourt, not the least of which are lockdown defenders Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee.

Any deficiencies on Barbosa’s part defensively will be covered by Bradley and Lee.  And what he’ll bring in shooting and ball handing ability will more than compensate for it.  Danny Ainge said he wasn’t going to sign a veteran two-guard, but C’s fans will be quite pleased he did, assuming Barbosa can remain healthy.  He hasn’t played more than 70 games since 2008-09, and questions regarding that fragility are what caused him to go unsigned for so long, it would seem.

If Barbosa remains healthy, Ainge just scored another underrated signing.