Good vibes were aplenty at Talking Stick Resort Arena today as the Phoenix Suns announced the return of fan favorite Leandro Barbosa on a two-year, $8 million deal. After a successful two-year stint with the all-worldly Golden State Warriors, Barbosa sought out a return to Phoenix under the premise of acting as a mentor to some of the younger talent that the front office has accumulated over the past couple of summers.
Entering his 14th season in the league, Barbosa realizes that father time is nearing, and he seems more than okay in serving a contributor off the court as much as on, with a primary focus on Devin Booker.
"In the fourteen years I have played in the league, I have played with some great players ... I want to teach [the players] -- especially [Devin] Booker. He is a very young player -- talented, can really shoot the ball," Barbosa said. "I'm sure he is going to be a main guy to help us."
Unsurprisingly, Barbosa is the latest person associated with the Suns to grow infatuated with the uber talents of Booker, and it is refreshing to hear him be so open to the idea of taking Book under his wing to help him grow as a player and as a person. Barbosa is notoriously known for being one of the brightest locker room presences in the league, and there should be no reason to doubt that he will not bring that same mantra with home during his third tenure with the Suns.
I do not even know the guy, and it was difficult to not smile like a gushing idiot when around him; he presents that kind of light-hearted nature about him.
Barbosa's signing marks another veteran to surround the litany of young talent around the roster. Tyson Chandler, Jared Dudley and now Barbosa all expect to be a crucial part of the young core's development as professionals, and it is a shrewd maneuver by GM Ryan McDonough to sit out of the spending spree that took hold of the league. Rather than bundle a bunch of money and chuck it at the first body he saw (cough, cough -- Lakers and Timofey Mozgov -- cough, cough), McDonough stuck to his guns and opted to supplement the roster with cheaper, likable veterans to pave the way for the young guns.
"We are comfortable with our roster, but at the same time there are some guys who either played well in Summer League or we are probably still a little surprised are available in free agency that we are looking at. We will sit down over the next couple of days and look at that. We still have over $13 million in salary cap space to play with, but just because we have it doesn't necessarily mean that we will spend it," McDonough told Bright Side of the Sun.
"We feel like we have upgraded our roster; we like the roster balance positionally; we don't see any gaping holes in the roster; but at the same time we will go through the process and see if there's one or two more guys -- I don't think it will be more than that -- that we potentially want to bring to training camp."
McDonough seemed keen on resting on his laurels and rolling over any cap space towards securing max-level room for next summer's free agent class. If the Suns elect to operate as a "below the cap" team, there will be opportunities to ring out another team's assets in exchange for taking on short-term salary to relieve said other team's luxury tax implications, roster glut, etc.
The Portland Trail Blazers operated under the same paradigm last season, and parlayed their flexibility into a conditional first-round pick when they acquired (then eventually waived) Anderson Varejao from the Cleveland Cavaliers. Additionally all teams are "required" to hit a "salary floor" of $84.7 million before the end of the season, or else they will inquire a penalty of having to disperse the leftover money amongst players on the roster. More front offices have began to realize that the penalty is far from daunting -- in some cases even a tremendous positive to instill good will with your players -- and I wouldn't be surprised if the Suns elect to go that route for the 2016-17 season.
The roster is filled with young talent that happens to still be on the rookie wage scale, and there is no use on spending money without a proper plan for it. From all accounts, the Suns are perfectly content with where they are at from an organizational standpoint, and I would have to say that agree with that assessment.