Rapid Reaction: C's sign Barbosa
October, 17, 2012
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com
Rapid reaction after the Boston Celtics added depth to their backcourt Wednesday, signing free-agent guard Leandro Barbosa:
AP Photo/Mark J. TerrillLeandro Barbosa drives to the basket for Brazil.
* BACKCOURT BY COMMITTEE: Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said last month that the team preferred to let a young guard compete for a final roster spot rather than seek out a veteran. But when Boston released first-year guards Dionte Christmas and Jamar Smith on Tuesday -- eating roughly $250,000 in guaranteed money -- it was clear that Boston had altered its approach. Even having stocked the guard position with the offseason additions of Jason Terry and Courtney Lee, the Celtics still needed a player with capable ball-handling skills as part of their backup-by-committee plan behind Rajon Rondo. With yet another serviceable option, the Celtics have more flexibility to start Terry or Lee and keep the other at the shooting guard spot in reserve lineups.
* ADDITIONAL SCORING PUNCH: When Barbosa won the Sixth Man of the Year award during the 2006-07 season, he averaged 18.1 points per game with the Suns. That production has essentially been halved, with Barbosa averaging 8.9 points per game in 22 appearances for the Pacers after being acquired at the trade deadline last season. He provided Indiana with limited scoring punch in the postseason (5.7 points per game), but the potential still is there on a Boston team that desperately craves bench scoring, even after an offseason aimed at stockpiling bench scorers. Barbosa can create his own offense out of isolation or spot-up opportunities utilizing his speed (though his transition numbers last season won't wow you for a blazer). The defensive side is the bigger concern given that he's undersized, but his speed makes him an adequate defender who should benefit from being on a defensive-minded team like Boston.
* LOW RISK, HIGH REWARD: The Celtics love these reclamation type players (see also: Darko Milicic), giving former standout players an opportunity to thrive in an environment where little is expected of them. When Avery Bradley is healthy, backcourt minutes are going to be scarce, but Barbosa will get the opportunity in the early part of the season to carve out a role and reestablish his value. Barbosa earned $7.6 million last season and will be a bargain at the veteran-minimum price tag ($854,389, with the league picking up the tab on the rest of his one-year deal). To the Celtics' front office, Barbosa was more of a known commodity than the likes of Christmas and Smith, and someone that had a better chance of aiding a title quest.
* PIETRUS, VERSION 2.0?: Right before the start of last season, the Celtics inked Mickael Pietrus to add depth at the swingman position. Barbosa isn't the defender that Pietrus is, but if he can rekindle some of his past offensive success, he can be a solid 12th man on this team. Pietrus wasn't willing to sign a minimum deal this offseason and you can't help but wonder if the Celtics would have considered him more had he been willing to play for cheap (though knee concerns and Pietrus' own offensive struggles last season might have scared Boston off a bit). Barbosa has battled his own injury woes and Boston will have to hope those are behind him.
* BONUS IMPACT: Barbosa should be a comforting presence to rookie Fab Melo as the two are both from Brazil. Melo has expressed a desire to play for the national team down the road and being around Barbosa should aid his transition to the NBA.