The Los Angeles Lakers have been mentioned as a possible destination for free agent Leandro Barbosa all summer, and his recent claim that the organization is one of at least three with whom he's talking to is sure to spark even more speculation.
To the extent Barbosa's free-agent future sparks speculation, anyway.
There's a perfectly compelling case to be made for what he'd bring to the Lakers' bench, but that case deserves a second thought or two. Los Angeles could use a reliable backup point guard, but Barbosa probably isn't that point guard.
He really isn't much of a point guard at all, though his size, quickness and ball-handling skills make him a better fit at the point than anywhere else.
Barbosa might have some success playing alongside Nash, but the Lakers need a guy who can give Nash rest or replace him in the event of an injury. Unless you believe Steve Blake or Chris Duhon is an adequate insurance policy, GM Mitch Kupchak still has some work to do.
That doesn't mean he'll turn to Barbosa.
The Jodie Meeks signing makes the Brazilian spark plug redundant. Los Angeles needs a guy who can create shots for Meeks and Antawn Jamison, not someone who will take shots away from them.
Barbosa hasn't averaged more than 2.6 assists a game since 2006-07, but he's never been shy about shooting. A shoot-first combo-guard can certainly serve a function in this league—just not the one L.A. needs.
The Lakers also need a point guard who can defend the perimeter, and that's definitely not Babrosa. C.J. Watson might have been a nice option before he signed with the Brooklyn Nets, but a perfectly reasonable solution may be right under our noses.
Los Angeles acquired point guard Chris Duhon from the Orlando Magic, and on-ball defense is really the one thing he does consistently well.
It's unclear how and when head coach Mike Brown plans to use Duhon and Steve Blake, the other in-house option to play behind Nash.
Neither will excite anyone, but they may both be better fits for a second unit that actually has some scorers now. Blake and Duhon can shoot the ball, but they do so on a spot-up basis and wait for the offense to come to them.
Duhon played roughly the same number of minutes as Barbosa played with the Indiana Pacers last season, but he took five fewer shots per game. Blake took three fewer shots despite playing more minutes.
You can argue that the Lakers still need an upgrade over the two options already on their roster, but Barbosa is an upgrade only in the most abstract sense.
He'd add talent, but not the right kind of talent.
Plus, if and when the Lakers do want a trigger-happy combo-guard, that's the perfect opportunity to give the 23-year-old Andrew Goudelock some minutes.
The 6'3" long-range shooter is one of the few young prospects on L.A.'s roster, and it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to stunt his growth any more than is absolutely necessary.
Kupchak shouldn't settle for the roster as it currently stands, but nor should he settle for tweaking it for the sake of tweaking. There will be better fish in the sea.
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