Leandro Barbosa: 'I'm here to help'
Barbosa, officially inked to a one-year, veteran-minimum deal on Thursday, got up some shots before Sunday's exhibition finale against the Philadelphia 76ers and -- while he's still waiting on visa paperwork that will keep him off the court for tonight's game -- said he's excited about the possibilities with his new squad.
"Well, first of all, I'm very excited, and happy to be here," said Barbosa. "It's a great team, a lot of experienced guys, so I've been looking for that moment to get out there and try to help those guys."
The Celtics were looking to add depth in the backcourt to defray the second-unit ball-handling duties from Jason Terry and Courtney Lee. Like Terry and Lee, Barbosa is more of a shoot-first guard than a pure point, and that shooting guard position will crowd up in December when Avery Bradley is expected to return from double shoulder surgery. Barbosa believes his abilities will help him carve out a role.
"They're all good players," said Barbosa. "I'm here to help, and as soon as I get my chance to go on the court, I'm just going to try to do my best to succeed and help the team."
Pressed on his potential workload once Bradley returns, Barbosa added: "That will be Doc's call. I think, he's the coach, he knows what he has to do. I'm here to help. I'll be a joy for the program, I'll be happy to help."
Celtics coach Doc Rivers confirmed Barbosa's good intentions. In fact, his team-first attitude practically surprised the coach.
"We’ve been talking to him, but obviously he [was] out there probably waiting for a bigger deal," said Rivers. "One thing I will give him credit for, I think he had us zeroed in on his radar. And he understood all the players in front of him, and he didn’t care. He kept saying that, which is refreshing. [He said,] 'I understand that I may not play, but I’m going to be on a team that, if I can play, I want to help.’ I was very honest with him, there’s a chance with the numbers -- and he said, ‘I’m not here to ruffle any feathers, I just want to be on a team that wins and hopefully I can help.’
Barbosa, a month shy of his 30th birthday, said he's still learning at this stage of his career on this team.
"It's an experienced team and I'm still young, so I'm here to learn, too," he said. "So, whatever happens, happens. I just want to help."
What exactly can he bring to the floor?
"Energy. A lot of energy," said Barbosa. "I think, like I said, I like to run, I like to bring a lot of offense. I like to score, too. But, we have a lot of scoring on the team, so we'll see. Whatever situation I'll be in, I will try to do."
Barbosa said the Los Angeles Lakers expressed interest this offseason, but didn't appear to get to the official offer stage. When Boston called looking for veteran help, Barbosa leaped at the opportunity.
"The Lakers were interested in myself, but I think Boston would be better for me," he said. "I don't know why. My agent had that talk and said it would be great for me to be here, so it's a kind of situation that I'm looking for -- especially to play with Rondo. He likes to run and I love to run, so I think it will work really well."
Added Barbosa: "It was talks. A lot of talks between [the Lakers] and my agent. I had a lot of talk with Steve [Nash], we're kind of close as friends. But nothing happened, so, it happened here."
Barbosa got a positive scouting report on Boston from rookie Fab Melo. Both are Brazil natives, and Barbosa said he could aid the younger player's development.
"I could be [a mentor to Melo]," said Barbosa. "I'm going to try to help him. We are from the same country, so I'm going to try to do my best to help him, as he's a rookie here. I'm going to help him."
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