According to a tweet from Hoops World, the Suns are doing what many have considered an obvious move -- looking to move Leandro Barbosa. The Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics are rumored to be "very interested."
Barbosa is one of the top bench scorers in the league, who has the ability to use his exceptional quickness to get to the rim and is also an excellent outside shooter. He struggled last season with a wrist injury that resulted in surgery to remove a cyst and kept him off the court for almost two months. When he returned, he found that the Suns were getting much better production from Goran Dragic and Barbosa's minutes declined.
Barbosa is a typical combo-guard in that he's the size of a point guard, but has a scorer's mentality. The Suns over the years tried to use him as a back-up point guard, but his vision and distribution skills were lacking. Defensively, Barbosa can't handle bigger shooting guards in the league.
LB is best-suited to come off the bench and play 20 to 25 minutes per game providing a spark of speed and a scoring punch. There are few other guards in the league better in that role.
But for the Suns, he is limited in playing opportunities with Jason Richardson having locked up the starting two guard position and Goran Dragic proving to be a much better back-up point guard. Dragic, a much better natural defender, can also play the backup shooting guard and has also shown to have solid shooting touch from range, which lets him play off the ball.
Barbosa is owed $7.1 million for next season and has a player option for $7.6 million in the 2011/12 season. Moving him is an obvious and expected decision for the Suns, who can use the salary savings to create flexibility going forward, stockpile more draft picks, or try and find a solid back-up center to play behind Robin Lopez.
If the Suns were to move Barbosa, they would probably want to find two additional guards to provide roster depth. A bigger, defensive oriented shooting guard would be ideal along with another combo guard who could be the third point guard in the depth chart.
Undrafted Villanova stand-out Scottie Reynolds will play for the Suns in the Vegas Summer League, as will Zabian Dowdell, who's played a few years overseas and is a player the Suns have always liked. Both would be much less expensive options in the combo guard role given the limited playing opportunities the team has for that spot.
[Note by Seth Pollack, 07/04/10 9:45 AM MST ]
The Boston Herald also reports interest by the Celtics in acquiring Barbosa as a backup to Rajon Rondo. The Celitcs could be dangling Rasheed Wallace, who has said he would retire this summer. With two years left on his contract (about $13 million), he would provide immediate salary savings if he followed through on his retirement statement.
If not, the Suns would have to buy out Wallace and his salary would count against the salary cap. It's a dicey proposition and the Suns can probably do better or at least demand more from the Celtics.