The top remaining free agent rotation player happens to be a former Phoenix Sun with a loyal, never-let-go following. Leandro Barbosa is still unemployed in mid-September, so that means its about time just to take whatever contract is offered.
So, two months after saying to a Brazilian reporter that he had no interest in returning to the Suns when they were letting Steve Nash go, we are now hearing this:
Barbosa had a great Olympics for Brazil last month as the 8th leading scorer at 16.2 points per game (behind new Sun Luis Scola, for one), but really fizzled for Indiana in the playoffs and was not brought back. He has not really been the same player since leaving Phoenix.
Can he make a difference on a team that's deep in similarly-talented players (ie. nonstars)? Interestingly, if the Suns brought back Barbosa they would have four-fifths of the 2010 bench mob back in play (Frye, Dudley, Dragic and Barbosa). The only one missing is Louis Amundson, who incidentally is still a free agent as well.
Is it smart to bring back the second unit from 2010? Or is it time to move on?
More on Barbosa's 2012 season after the jump...
The good, from his player review at pacers.com:
(After the trade to acquire him in February, h)is impact was immediate and profound. The Pacers were 25-18 when he made his debut against the Clippers on March 20, scoring 12 points in 18 minutes to give the team a glimpse of his ability. They went 17-5 in his 22 regular-season appearances, including an 8-0 mark when he scored in double figures.
Barbosa averaged 8.9 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.5 assists, shooting .399 overall (an uncharacteristically low number for a player with a .461 career mark) and .424 from the 3-point line (a little higher than his career figure of .391).
Once the playoffs began, Barbosa slipped into a mysterious shooting funk. A sprained left ankle late in the season bothered him early in the Orlando series but when the ankle recovered, the shot did not. Barbosa scored in double figures just once in the playoffs, averaging 5.7 points in 20.3 minutes, shooting 37 percent overall and hitting just 3 of 20 (.150) from the 3-point line.
Against Miami, Barbosa shot 14 of 44 overall (.318) and missed all nine of his 3-point attempts.
The second unit struggled so obviously against a thin Miami opponent it prompted team President Larry Bird to single out the bench as the team's biggest weakness in his postseason press briefing.
And then our sister site - www.indycornrows.com - did their own review of Barbosa.
Barbosa was a rental who came up short when the Pacers needed him most. It's not unfair to weigh him on those standards when considering what his future may be in Indianapolis. It just seems unlikely given Barbosa's struggles in the postseason that he'll be here next season. Why the Pacers would use a roster spot and valuable cap space on a guy who likely won't bring them any more than he already did wouldn't make sense for them.
There you go. Do we want him?