Over the past few weeks, many different free agents have been linked to the Los Angeles Lakers. With GM Mitch Kupchak exploring all sorts of options in free agency, the Lakers are intent on signing at least one more free agent in order to bolster the backcourt off the bench.
Reportedly, one player that sparked their interest recently is veteran guard Leandro Barbosa according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com via Twitter:
Game of the day now: Brazil v Russia. Hearing out of Brazil camp that they believe Lakers have interest in free-agent Leandro Barbosa
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) August 2, 2012
Arguably one of the best free agents available on the open market, Barbosa brings a lot to the table for teams interested in signing the 29-year-old. Still one of the quickest guards in the NBA today, Barbosa will bring some much needed speed, scoring, and outside shooting to the Lakers’ backcourt.
Along with Barbosa’s offensive ability, the veteran guard also has some history with the newly acquired Steve Nash. During their time together with the Phoenix Suns, Nash and Barbosa became one of the most intimidating backcourts in the league, with both players being duel threats from the outside and off the dribble.
Even though the combination of Nash and Barbosa never resulted in a championship while playing alongside Amare’ Stoudemire and Shawn Marion in Phoenix, the Lakers felt the wrath of this talented team with some epic playoff battles before Pau Gasol was dealt to Los Angeles.
Last season, Barbosa was traded by the Toronto Raptors to the Indiana Pacers before the NBA trade deadline on March 15. The trade was basically nothing more than a veteran rental for the Pacers with Barbosa’s contract set to expire and Indiana seemingly having no intention of re-signing the Brazilian native.
As of right now, the Lakers have apparently narrowed down their free agent search for a backup shooting guard down to three players. Jodie Meeks, C.J. Miles and Barbosa seem to be at the top of the list for the Lakers with the veteran’s minimum and mini mid-level exception at their disposal.
It remains to be seen whether or not the Lakers choose to sign one or two of these players to continue improving the bench before next season.
Barbosa is arguably the best option of the three moving forward. As long as he’s willing to take the veteran’s minimum of $1.4 million, the Lakers will almost certainly aggressively pursue the former NBA Sixth Man of the Year.