After star point guard Eric Bledsoe went down with a knee injury, the Phoenix Suns went out and signed former fan favorite Leandro Barbosa to a ten-day contract as an insurance policy. While Barbosa’s best days were in Phoenix and he is a former Sixth Man of the Year, this was seen by many as a desperation attempt for an up and coming team trying to stay in the playoff conversation while their best player was out.
Barbosa has been a very pleasant surprise though after a rough start, as he has averaged 9.3 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 2.3 assists, playing about 22 minutes per game in four contests. After dropping 21 points on the New York Knick on Monday, he may have earned a spot on the team for the rest of the season, according to Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek.
“He’s a guy that we’re hoping takes some of Eric’s possibilities, where if we play Goran and Leandro together we can get the ball moving from side to side,” Hornacek said. “Then he can attack. He’s very good at attacking the basket. We put him in a tough situation just getting in from Brazil and playing him right away and I think he struggled the first couple games, but you saw that he still has the speed that we’re looking for.”
Hornacek continued to vocalize his desire to keep Barbosa for this season, citing his veteran presence as key to a playoff push.
“He’s a veteran guy,” the coach said. “If we’re going to try to make a push for the playoffs you’ll need that veteran guy whether Eric comes back in two weeks or five weeks or whenever it is.
“Leandro, once Eric gets back, will be just another good piece to bring off the bench and bring veteran play.”
Barbosa definitely brings the veteran presence Hornacek desires, but if Monday night’s game is any indication of what’s in store, we may see a resurgence in the career of the man formerly known as The Brazilian Blur.
Quotes via Arizona Sports