Celtics guard Leandro Barbosa asked Danny Ainge to be either traded or released, but the C’s president of basketball operations “will not let me go,” Barbosa told a Brazilian sports radio station (h/t CelticsBlog).
Here’s the rough Portuguese-to-English translation from Google Chrome:
“I will not lie to you: I tried to get out several times, but Danny Ainge does not want to let me go,” Barbosa told Bradesco Sports FM. “He’s a guy that admires my basketball skills for many years. I was supposed to have got a good contract with the Boston Celtics, but did not. He will not let me go.”
The fifth guard on the roster after Avery Bradley’s return to the backcourt, Barbosa’s 10.7 minutes and 4.9 points per game are both career lows, and Celtics coach Doc Rivers failed to bring the explosive scorer off the bench on Wednesday until it was too late in a game tailored for his instant offense.
“I should’ve played LB earlier when we were struggling for energy,” Rivers said after the 90-78 loss to the Hornets. “He’s an energy guy. It was easy [to say] now, obviously, but that’s what I’ll probably see when I watch the film.”
In the final 2:35 of the fourth quarter, Barbosa scored seven points on four shots. His 36-minute averages of 16.5 points (44.2 FG%, 39.3 3P%), 4.1 assists, 2.6 rebounds and 1.2 steals aren’t far off from 2006-07, when he won the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year honor, and they’re superior across the board to fellow offensive-minded guard Jason Terry‘s 36-minute averages of 12.8 points (42.5 FG%, 36.1 3P%), 2.9 assists, 2.5 boards and 1.2 steals.
Then again, the C’s committed $15 million over the next three seasons to the 35-year-old Terry and only spent the $1.2 million veteran minimum on the 30-year-old Barbosa for this year. It’s pretty clear why Barbosa would want out of Boston, and it’s evident why Ainge & Co. would want to keep him around for insurance purposes.
Evidently frustrated by being pigeonholed mainly into a backup point guard role behind Rajon Rondo rather than the 2-guard position he thrived in alongside Steve Nash in Phoenix from 2003-10, Barbosa added: “A lot will happen. In a little while, you will hear a firecracker there.”
(Oddly, Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap recently compared the two point guards earlier this week: “[Rondo] puts the ball in the middle of the paint and operates there. So, he’s like a post guy. He [essentially] makes a post pass to himself, much like Nash. He just puts it exactly where he wants it, and he distributes.”)
Barbosa’s comments sure sound like he could present a problem that’s not going to go away anytime soon. How much this weighs on the locker room could force Ainge’s hand into finding a trade partner or releasing Barbosa outright. You’ll remember Ainge dropped the less valuable Jermaine O’Neal after similar grumblings last season.
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