Leandro Barbosa: Why Signing with the Lakers Benefits Both Sides
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Even as the Olympics are in full swing and the men's basketball tournament moves into the medal rounds, the NBA rumor mill continues to grind along. One of the more intriguing rumors over the last week was the strong interest of the Los Angeles Lakers in "The Brazilian Blur" Leandro Barbosa. His leadership and excellent play in the 2012 Games can only have heightened that desire for a player that would pay immediate dividends to one of the worst benches in professional basketball.
While not the speed demon he was in the middle 2000s, Barbosa is still an above-average slasher with a legitimate outside stroke (as evidenced by his 42.4% from beyond the three-point line in 2012 with the Indiana Pacers). Beyond that, his ability to play the point guard or create match-up problems as an undersized shooting guard would give the Lakers plenty of versatility off the bench.
Most of all, Barbosa is a flat out scorer. The Lakers simply do not have that on their roster once you get past the projected starting five. No one other than Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash can consistently create their own shot. Barbosa is one of the few bargain players that screams 'instant offense'. Having re-signed Jordan Hill and eyeing Kenyon Martin, the signing of Barbosa would go a long way towards completely re-shuffling a woebegone second unit with a veteran-laden one that has a mix of scoring, toughness, and versatility.
Having said that, somehow Barbosa is still without a contract. Signing with the Lakers works two fold. One, he immediately returns to a title contender. But maybe of more substance, Barbosa would be reunited with Steve Nash. There could be instances where both were on the floor, making Nash's transition to Los Angeles that much easier. It is not a shock to most basketball fans that his three best seasons (2007 to 2009) came as he played in a system with and under Nash.
Ultimately, the Lakers lack quickness, youth, and athleticism. While it is nice to envision athletes like Jodie Meeks coming to LA, Barbosa has the ability to contribute in each of those areas as a scorer with a lot of good basketball left at age 29. For those reasons, it should be a proverbial slam dunk that Mitch Kupchak inks him to a contract with the Purple and Gold if he is willing to sign.
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