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LB?

The top remaining free agent rotation player happens to be a former Phoenix Sun with a loyal, never-let-go following. Leandro Barbosa is still unemployed in mid-September, so that means its about time just to take whatever contract is offered.

So, two months after saying to a Brazilian reporter that he had no interest in returning to the Suns when they were letting Steve Nash go, we are now hearing this:

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Since that tweet, the Nets and Lakers have both been characterized as unlikely. So does that mean it's down to the Suns?

Barbosa had a great Olympics for Brazil last month as the 8th leading scorer at 16.2 points per game (behind new Sun Luis Scola, for one), but really fizzled for Indiana in the playoffs and was not brought back. He has not really been the same player since leaving Phoenix.

Can he make a difference on a team that's deep in similarly-talented players (ie. nonstars)? Interestingly, if the Suns brought back Barbosa they would have four-fifths of the 2010 bench mob back in play (Frye, Dudley, Dragic and Barbosa). The only one missing is Louis Amundson, who incidentally is still a free agent as well.

Is it smart to bring back the second unit from 2010? Or is it time to move on?

More on Barbosa's 2012 season after the jump...

The good, from his player review at pacers.com:

(After the trade to acquire him in February, h)is impact was immediate and profound. The Pacers were 25-18 when he made his debut against the Clippers on March 20, scoring 12 points in 18 minutes to give the team a glimpse of his ability. They went 17-5 in his 22 regular-season appearances, including an 8-0 mark when he scored in double figures.

Barbosa averaged 8.9 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.5 assists, shooting .399 overall (an uncharacteristically low number for a player with a .461 career mark) and .424 from the 3-point line (a little higher than his career figure of .391).

The bad:

Once the playoffs began, Barbosa slipped into a mysterious shooting funk. A sprained left ankle late in the season bothered him early in the Orlando series but when the ankle recovered, the shot did not. Barbosa scored in double figures just once in the playoffs, averaging 5.7 points in 20.3 minutes, shooting 37 percent overall and hitting just 3 of 20 (.150) from the 3-point line.

Against Miami, Barbosa shot 14 of 44 overall (.318) and missed all nine of his 3-point attempts.

The ugly:

The second unit struggled so obviously against a thin Miami opponent it prompted team President Larry Bird to single out the bench as the team's biggest weakness in his postseason press briefing.

And then our sister site - www.indycornrows.com - did their own review of Barbosa.

Their conclusion:

Barbosa was a rental who came up short when the Pacers needed him most. It's not unfair to weigh him on those standards when considering what his future may be in Indianapolis. It just seems unlikely given Barbosa's struggles in the postseason that he'll be here next season. Why the Pacers would use a roster spot and valuable cap space on a guy who likely won't bring them any more than he already did wouldn't make sense for them.

There you go. Do we want him?

Poll
Do we want Leandro Barbosa back?

  804 votes | Results


Denver has nothing on this guy.


In a shocking upset, the Phoenix Suns 3-on-3 team has advanced to the second round of SB Nation's NBA 3on3 Tournament by knocking off the No. 6 seed Denver Nuggets

In our preview I wrote about how the Suns should win this match-up on the strength of their pick-and roll. However, four out of the five judges saw it differently and the Suns were given only a 34 percent chance to win any one game. Since the Nuggets were the higher seed, all numbers 66 and below belong to Denver, while a roll of 67 or higher signifies a Suns victory.

As it turns out, the pick-and-roll (of the dice) did greatly favor the Suns and Phoenix won both games to sweep the Nuggets. Make the jump to see how the games played out.

In the first game, the dice came up 83. The final (made-up) score was 25-21 in favor of the Suns. Marcin Gortat was unstoppable in the pick-and-roll and scored 18 points all by himself. Goran Dragic finished with four points and Jared Dudley hit one 3-pointer.

In the second game, the dice came up 95. This time the Suns didn't need the full ten minutes as they came out on fire and hit the 31 point cap to end the game. The Nuggets focused their defense on shutting down Gortat by switching the screen and doubling him on the roll, which freed Dragic up to make plays off the dribble and left Dudley open on the perimeter. Dragic finished with 13 points, Dudley hit four 3-pointers for 12 points and Gortat only scored six points but dominated the glass for the Suns.

Enjoy this (hypothetical) win for now, because things get much tougher really soon. The Suns' second round opponent is the MVP-studded Los Angeles Lakers trio of Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard.

Keep following along with tournament on the 3-on-3 Story Stream.


Marshall

Latest illustration featuring rookie PG Kendall Marshall. We lost one of the best passers in the history of the NBA but gained the best passer in this year's draft...so we have that going for us.

As always comments are welcome and appreciated and you can find more here.


You don't like us Kobe?  Don't worry, the feeling is mutual.

When I think of skullduggery relating to adversaries of the Suns four colors come to mind - gold, purple, silver and black. Hubris and heinousness. The braggadocios and the blackguards. The Los Angeles Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs.

The Suns used to be the Lakers punching bag for many years after entering the league, but that dynamic changed somewhat after the Suns first playoff victory over the Lakers in 1990. Since then the Suns have actually won four of six playoff series against LA and only trail by a margin of 67-59 head to head overall.

The Spurs, on the other hand, still seem to be under the impression that the Suns are a punching bag. The seven seconds or less era was marred by a series of hard fouls, dirty play and low blows at the hands of the Spurs, who seemed to subscribe to the philosophy that if you're not cheating, you're not trying.

The Suns have been one of the most successful franchises since they joined the NBA. Despite never winning a championship, they have the fourth highest all-time winning percentage in the league. The Suns only have losing records against the Lakers, Spurs, Celtics and Bulls (by one game). The Suns have had scrapes with other opponents like the Celitcs, Bulls, Trailblazers, Jazz, Rockets and SuperSonics, but none of these have matched the drama, animosity, or enduring qualities of the matches against the Lakers and Spurs.

Feel free to throw a couple haymakers in the comments or add to my list of high (and low) lights in these rivalries. I know we are usually sanguine and affable here at BSotS, but take this as your license to let these teams know what you really think about them. Cast your vote in the poll, too. Those results along with the ensuing discussion will be featured in an article tomorrow as part of SB Nation's rivalry week.

Links have been provided for all of the incidents listed below. Enjoy or lament at your discretion.

Tale of the tape: Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Lakers

All time regular season wins – Suns 91, Lakers 130.

All time playoffs wins – Suns 24, Lakers 38.

Suns have won 4 of last 6 playoff series, but are 4-8 overall.

The Suns have played more games against the Lakers (283) than any other team.

Kobe Bryant hates the Suns.

First round of 2006 playoffs - Raja Bell clotheslines Kobe in game five. Tim Thomas hits clutch three. Kobe Bryant quits on his team in game seven.

Paul Westphal’s prediction after game 2 of the first round in the 1993 playoffs.

Steve Nash becomes a perfidious traitor Laker.

Ron Artest tips in game winner during 2010 Western Conference Finals.

D’Antoni reacts to perceived slight by Phil Jackson "He might want to try to do it in playoff time when we bust 'em every time."

Tale of the tape: Phoenix Suns vs. San Antonio Spurs

All time regular season wins – Suns 72, Spurs 75.

All time playoffs wins – Suns 22, Spurs 25.

Suns are 4-6 in playoff series against the Spurs.

Barkley hits game winner over David Robinson in 1993 Western Conference Semifinals.

Nash plays with broken nose in game one loss in 2007 WC semifinals (injury is at 3:33). Robert Horry commits flagrant foul on Nash in game five of 2007 WC semifinals, Stoudemire and Diaw leave the "vicinity of the bench".

The commissioner sides with the San Antonio Sterns and suspends Stoudemire and Diaw for game five of the 2007 WC Semis. "But to listen to the palaver that Robert Horry changed the series is just silly. What changed the series is that Amare and Boris ran out onto the court." - David Stern.

2010 Western Conference Semifinals - One-Eyed Steve leads Suns to victory. The Dragon Slays the Spurs.

Bruce "Low Blowin’" is the dirtiest player in the NBA.

Tim Duncan finishes Suns off with unexpected three pointer in game one of 2008 first round playoff series.

Poll
Who is the Suns' biggest rival?

  363 votes | Results


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