It took a second 10-day contract and a few extra days on the sideline recovering from a right shoulder injury, but Leandro Barbosa finally made his long-awaited homecoming at US Airways Center Sunday night.
Barbosa, who was a fan favorite during his first stint with Phoenix from 2003-10, didn’t disappoint either. In the Suns’ 117-103 victory over the Denver Nuggets, the “Brazilian Blur” poured in 13 points off the bench to go along with four rebounds and three assists.
“First, I want to say thank you to the fans because they cheered me when I came onto the court,” Barbosa said after the victory. “I haven’t forgotten them. It was a great feeling to see the fans open up and cheer for me. I was really, really happy.”
During his five appearances with the Suns in 2013-14, Barbosa has averaged 10.0 points per game, including two straight double-digit performances. But the former first-round pick admitted that his shoulder, which he injured in overtime of a 98-96 road loss to the New York Knicks on Jan. 13, continues to be troublesome at times on the court.
“It bothers me a little bit,” said Barbosa. “It’s still not comfortable with this thing I have in my shoulder. I just did what I could to help this team win this game. It was very important for us.
“We didn’t do a great job on the road, so it was great winning tonight.”
The 11-year veteran’s latest performance could go a long way towards cementing his place as a mainstay in the Valley for the rest of the season.
Contractually, the NBA only allows teams to sign players to back-to-back 10-day deals. At the conclusion of the second deal, the team has to decide whether or not to sign the player for the rest of the season or release him outright.
Barbosa has eight days left on his second 10-day deal.