NBA Free Agency 2012: Why the Boston Celtics Should Pursue Barbosa over Lee

Nikhil BaradwajSenior Analyst IJuly 18, 2012

ORLANDO, FL - MAY 02:  Guard J.J. Redick #7 of the Orlando Magic defends against Guard Leandro Barbosa #28 of the Indiana Pacers in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Amway Center on May 2, 2012 in Orlando, Florida.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
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Most of the talk around Boston has been surrounding why the Celtics should sign Courtney Lee. Don't get me wrong, Lee is a solid player who can transition into a role player for the Celtics next season.

However, roadblocks remain in the way of a possible Lee signing, because Boston will likely have to take part in a sign-and-trade to pick him up.

Even so, there are better or equivalent players left on the market for Boston to pursue.

Two names come to mind: Nate Robinson and Tracy McGrady.

McGrady was, at one point, the best scorer in the league, hands down. His inside-outside game was incredible and he was able to score whenever he wished to.

Those days are past T-Mac and he seems to be a shell of himself.

McGrady might be slightly worse than Lee, but he will come at a cheaper cost and will likely allow for the Celtics to not give up any of their young assets in a sign-and-trade.

Nate Robinson should also pique the interest of Celtics management. The 5'9" guard averaged 11.2 points this past season for the Warriors and can also play the point while Rondo rests.

His game is limited by his height however, and he struggles against bigger and more athletic 2-guards. In addition, the Celtics will likely need to compete with the Warriors, who need the diminutive guard to complete their bench.

However, there is a better option than Robinson, McGrady and Lee. Not only is he a better player, but he has the ability to start right away.

This mystery man is Leandro Barbosa.

People have somehow forgotten about the versatile Barbosa, who once won the Sixth Man of the Year award earlier in his career.

While he does not play at that level anymore, Barbosa is a better defender and team player compared to Lee. While in Toronto, he averaged 12.2 points in only 22.5 minutes of work.

Lee on the other hand averaged less points, while playing more minutes (11.4 points in 30.3 minutes).

It would be foolish for the Celtics to pick up a worse player just because he is younger. After Barbosa returns from the Olympics, the Celtics should go after the Brazilian hard.

He has the ability to start while Avery Bradley is out, while transitioning into an efficient and effective bench player after Bradley heals.

Without a doubt, he is the best remaining free agent option for the Celtics.