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Phoenix Suns coach: Plan is for Leandro Barbosa to be around rest of the season

LISTEN: Jeff Hornacek, Suns Head Coach

The Phoenix Suns signed guard Leandro Barbosa to a 10-day contract on Jan. 8, meaning he’s set to become a free agent in just a few days.

Signed as a bit of insurance when the team was unsure of Eric Bledsoe’s status as the team left for a five-game-in-seven-days road trip, Barbosa appeared in four contests and averaged 9.3 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists in nearly 22 minutes per game.

Monday night in New York the “Brazilian Blur” poured in 21 points to go along with 3 rebounds and 2 assists, and his pair of free throws in the game’s final seconds led to overtime.

Wednesday morning, as a guest of Doug and Wolf, Suns coach Jeff Hornacek seemed pleased with the player’s progress.

“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,” he 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 believes Barbosa, who had been out of the NBA since tearing his left ACL in a game last February, will continue to get better as he gets re-acclimated to the game and learns his new teammates.

“We get a couple days to practice our plays with him and I think he’ll be a good addition for us.”

And not just for the rest of the week, as Hornacek said the plan would be to keep the 31-year-old around the rest of the season.

“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 has career averages of 12 points, 2.4 assists and 2.2 rebounds per game, with the first seven years of his career being played in Phoenix with the Suns. A key part of the “Seven Seconds or Less” style, he was a member of the last Phoenix team to reach the postseason in 2010.

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