Lakers Rumors: L.A.'s Backcourt Desperately Needs Leandro Barbosa as Sixth Man

Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistAugust 3, 2012

NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 28:  Leandro Barbosa #28 of the Indiana Pacers looks on against the New Jersey Nets at Prudential Center on March 28, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey. 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 Chris Chambers/Getty Images)
Chris Chambers/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers' sign-and-trade acquisition of Steve Nash was only the beginning to a summer that has thoroughly reshaped a roster that made it to the Western Conference Semifinals just a few months ago.

But, as any Lakers fan knows, this organization won't settle for anything less than a championship.

By all accounts, general manager Mitch Kupchak certainly isn't.

Even with Nash's addition, the Lakers' bench remains a troubling reminder that a handful of stars can only accomplish so much on their own. After all, the Miami Heat wouldn't have much to show for their big name coup were it not for guys like Shane Battier and Mike Miller showing up in the NBA Finals.

To that end, Kupchak signed veteran forward Antawn Jamison and has reportedly shown interest in swingman C.J. Miles.

According to ESPN's Marc Stein, combo-guard Leandro Barbosa may be another target:

Game of the day now: Brazil v Russia. Hearing out of Brazil camp that they believe Lakers have interest in free-agent Leandro Barbosa

— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) August 2, 2012

While Barbosa would be the third offseason addition with little ability to make a defensive contribution, he'd instantly help elevate this rotation to one of the most dangerous groups of scorers on the planet.

Barbosa excels in the open court, so it's no surprise he had his best years playing alongside point guard Steve Nash on the Phoenix Suns. Thanks to Nash's ability to push the tempo and Barbosa's end-to-end speed, the two make a brilliant backcourt combination.

The opportunity to once again join Nash in Purple and Gold has to be a compelling selling point, more so than any dollar amount the Lakers can offer.

The 29-year-old Brazillian is coming off a season in which he made $7.6 million, but he's in store for a significant pay cut as teams have come to realize he's best suited to play the role of a scorer off the bench.

Were he to accept Los Angeles' mini mid-level exception, that's precisely the role head coach Mike Brown would ask him to play.

It's not that Steve Blake is as useless as you might think. He's a solid spot-up perimeter shooter who doesn't make too many mistakes.

However, Blake is anything but a spark plug.

He's often deferential to a fault, and he struggles to create his own shot. By those measures, Barbosa is his polar opposite.

In fact, the 6'3" speedster is one of the league's best when it comes to pulling up on fastbreak opportunities and drilling three-pointers. He's built for a run-and-gun system, and that's something we may see more of from the Lakers, at least whenever Andrew Bynum goes to the bench.

He can also score with the ball in his hands, taking quick jumpers after screens or creating some space by threatening to drive.

Barbosa isn't one to pass the ball, but the Lakers have that part covered.

They just need a guy who can score a quick 10 points, and that's exactly what he did while splitting time between the Toronto Raptors and Indiana Pacers last season.

As late-summer acquisitions go, this is one that could truly hit the spot.