Leandro Barbosa's reduced role with the Suns and his relatively high salary makes him the most movable player on the Phoenix roster. (Photo by Max Simbron)
Before you sharpen your pitch folks and come at me with your virtual rotten tomatoes, know this:
I DO NOT THINK THE SUNS SHOULD TRADE LEANDRO OR ANYONE ELSE FOR THAT MATTER
I hate mid-season trades for teams that are winning and especially for the Suns that have seen so much turmoil over the past two years. The last thing the Suns need right now is locker room disruption.
So consider this an exercise in relative player valuation and pure fantasy GM wankery.
Leandro Barbosa's usage is down this season for two obvious reasons. Jason Richardson and Goran Dragic.
LB is averaging only 21.4 minutes per game which happens to be exactly how much he played his rookie season in 2003/04. If you take out the two games he started in place of the suspended Jason Richardson his floor time drops even further to 17.8 mpg which approaches his career low.
When he is on the court Leandro is doing exactly what he's always done. His shooting percentages are right at his career averages (FG% .480; 3P% .406) and he's pushing the tempo and attacking the rim.
Unfortunately for Barbosa, he's not getting the time backing up both guard positions in a 3 man back court rotation as he had in years past. Dragic has started the season where he ended his rookie campaign and is looking like he's a solid backup point guard.
Comparing the two Dragic is a better defensive player, better rebounder and in five fewer minutes per game is averaging 1.3 more assists. While Leandro is clearly more explosive scorer of the two, Dragic is looking to be the better all around player with a much better feel for running the team and finding his teammates.
At the shooting guard position, Leandro's size has always been a liability on the defensive end and his relatively poor rebounding and play-making make him a much lesser player than Jason Richardson and a questionable starter for any team in the league.
Leandro will make $6.6m this season, $7.1m next season and has a player option for $7.6m in 2011/12.
Given his reduced role for the Suns one has to wonder if there's not an opportunity to move him to a team like Minnesota that desperately needs bench scoring.
A combination of Ryan Hollis and Wayne Ellington would match salaries and give the Suns some front court depth and an interesting young two guard who could split time with Alando Tucker behind Richardson. If the Suns could get back a 2010 1st round draft pick as well then this is a deal you have to seriously consider.
That is if I were even considering a trade at this point in the season. Which I am most certainly not....unless the Suns could get that Timberwolves 1st round pick (or maybe the rights to Ricky Rubio?)