Leandro Barbosa has been no stranger to being on the bench to start games. While at his peak during the 2006-07 season, he averaged 18.1 PPG and 4.0 APG while shooting 47.6% from the field and 43.4% from distance in 32.7 MPG, appearing as a starter in only 18 of the 80 contests he played in that year. Today, the 6'3 guard still starts the game as a reserve for the Celtics, but plays just a fraction of the high-level minutes that allowed him to become one of the league's best bench scorers for a significant portion of his career.
Several seasons have passed since the 30-year-old guard found his niche as a dynamic second unit scorer in Mike D'Antoni's high-octane "Seven Seconds or Less" offense in Phoenix, and since being dealt by the Suns after the 2009-10 season, he's had brief tenures with Toronto and Indiana. While he may not be as spry as in previous years, Barbosa's numbers have shown that he may still have some value to teams that lack guard depth if given the right amount of playing time. During his first season with Toronto in 2010-11, he averaged 13.3 PPG in 24.1 MPG. Before playing the final 22 games of the 2011-12 season with Indiana (averaging 8.9 PPG in 19.8 MPG), he averaged 12.2 PPG in 22.5 MPG with the Raptors. This year, he totals 10.8 MPG through 30 games.
With Doc Rivers having to account for Rajon Rondo, Courtney Lee, Jason Terry, and the recent return of Avery Bradley in his rotation, Leandro has found trouble earning consistent playing time. Since playing 14.3 MPG in November, he earned 6.5 MPG in December, and just 6.8 MPG this month so far. It's also worth mentioning that after appearing in each of Boston's first 16 games of the season, he has accumulated 11 DNP-CDs in their last 23 games. Despite his sporadic role, Barbosa has shown flashes of solid production this year, going 6-for-8 from the field for 16 points in 16 minutes against the Heat on opening night, 16 points on 6-for-8 shooting in 23 minutes against Utah on the first game of a back-to-back, and 17 points on 5-for-11 shooting against the Nets the next night.
The veteran scorer is making about $1.23MM this year on a one-year deal, and became trade-eligible as recently as yesterday. One could only speculate about possible trade destinations, but with the team supposedly interested in J.J. Redick, Barbosa's contract may be included in any potential deal with the Magic. Other teams that could reasonably show interest are the Hawks, who recently lost Lou Williams to a season-ending injury, and the Lakers, who could be granted a Disabled Player Exception after Jordan Hill was ruled out for the rest of the season. A reunion with Steve Nash and Mike D'Antoni would arguably be the most welcome option for Barbosa if given a choice, and should a DPE be granted to the Lakers (worth about $1.78MM), the team will have enough to bring the Brazilian guard to Los Angeles.
Two days ago, we initially heard a report from ESPN Brazil that Barbosa wanted out of Boston (he strongly refuted the rumor shortly after the story was released). Regardless of whether or not he remains a Celtic past the trade deadline, it wouldn't seem likely that the nine-year-veteran factors into the team's plans after this season. With that being said, it could be in the their best interests to shop Barbosa's contract to teams currently in need of guard depth instead of possibly losing him in the offseason for nothing.