Barbosa considering Brazilian options
The Toronto Raptors may get an unexpected break as they try to remake their team in the wake of a 22-60 season.
Brazilian veteran Leandro Barbosa is considering opting out of the final
year of a contract scheduled to pay him $7.6-million for 2011-12.
According to his brother Arturo, the shooting guard is receiving feelers
from some top club teams at home who want to bring back the top
Brazilian player of his generation.
“The situation is this: it would not be responsible of me as his brother
to not consider the Brazil option,” said Arturo Barbosa. “Leandro loves
Toronto he loves the fans and the relationships with everybody, but
business is business. An athlete’s career is short and there are a lot
of sponsorship opportunities [in Brazil] especially with the World Cup
in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016.”
The leading candidate for Barbosa’s services, apparently, is Flamengo,
Brazilian basketball champions in 2008 and 2009 who play in Rio de
Janeiro. The club’s soccer side recently brought soccer star Ronaldinho
back to the fold to finish his career after his run in Europe.
Another possibility is the Brazilian club Corinthians.
With a growing economy Brazils national basketball league has grown in
stature and professionalism in recent years and is better positioned to
bring home top players who have typically played in Europe if not the
Raptors president Bryan Colangelo said he just learned of the
possibility of Barbosa leaving in recent days: “They are weighing
options,” he said via text message from Europe where he’s scouting draft
prospects. “There is no word from the agents on that yet.”
Should Barbosa leave his option and return to Brazil it could open up
the rebuilding Raptors’ options considerably, both by providing another
roster spot and shaving more money off the Raptors salary obligations,
already slated to drop from $69-million on the books last season to
about $34-million for nine players – though that number will rise as the
team adds a draft pick and fills out its roster.