HOOPSWORLD's Bill Ingram has one take on the potential move, choosing to believe that it's almost purely about the money:
It’s also what’s behind today’s headline that Barbosa would like to play for Cleveland, even as the rumor mill is hopping with the possibility that the Lakers would like to sign him.
The telling part of the Barbosa/Cleveland story can be found in this snippet from Fox Sports Ohio: “And according to several sources close to Barbosa, he’d be more than willing to talk with the Cavs about a potential role. Those sources could not say, however, if the interest was mutual.”
Absolutely Barbosa would love to talk with the Cavaliers about their $13.8 million in cap space. The Lakers offer a better shot at a championship, but they have only a mini mid-level exception of $3.09 million and a traded player exception of $1.42 million from the Luke Walton trade. It’s pretty easy to do that math.
Yes, Ingram is correct that the math behind a potential deal is rather simple. Cleveland would indeed be able to pay him far more money.
However, there's more to it than that—going to the Cavs would be a smart decision for Barbosa on the court as well.
He might not have an immediate shot at a championship, as he would with the Los Angeles Lakers, but he'd be on an up-and-coming team that could contend in the future.
Kyrie Irving is on the fast track towards becoming one of the best point guards in the league, Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller are talented incoming rookies and Tristan Thompson still has a great deal of potential.
This team can only go up and should compete for a playoff spot this season, especially if Anderson Varejao remains in town throughout the season.
Moreover, Barbosa would be able to make more of an impact for the Cavs than he would the Lakers. In purple and gold, he wouldn't get much of a chance to play behind Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant—even if he would be an effective member of the second unit, and potentially a leader of that squad—while he'd play significantly more in a sparse Cleveland backcourt.
Are the Cleveland Cavaliers a good fit for Leandro Barbosa?
Other than the aforementioned Irving and Waiters duo, Daniel Gibson, Jeremy Pargo and Donald Sloan are the only players likely to contribute to the Cleveland backcourt. Barbosa would immediately earn a contributing role and play a good deal of minutes as Irving and Waiters both learn and try to stay healthy.
Barbosa is still only 29. It's too soon in his NBA career for him to start chasing rings at the expense of playing time and the ability to contribute, especially when there's more money involved.
Money may be important in this decision, but it isn't and shouldn't be the only reason for Barbosa's interest in the Cavs.