Leandro Barbosa will return to his roots this year as the Toronto Raptors guard has signed a contract to play in Brazil for the upcoming basketball season. Barbosa's contract has an opt-out clause that will allow him to return to the Raptors once the NBA lockout is complete.
Barbosa, a Brazil native who was born Sao Paulo, signed a contract with Rio de Janeiro's Flamengo according to TSN's Tim Chisholm. Upon his return stateside, Barbosa will pick up his $7.6 million player option and return to Toronto -- if Toronto doesn't trade him first.
Barbosa has only played in 102 of 164 possible games over the course of the past two seasons due to various injuries. If the Raptors do decide to trade him whenever the lockout ends, due to ever-increasing injury concerns, Chisholm notes that Barbosa better stay healthy in Brazil.
Such a scenario could also significantly impact Barbosa's trade value if and when the lockout ends, as Barbosa is one of the club's most valuable pieces given his skill set and expiring contract. It's hard to tell at this juncture what the Raptors could get for him, exactly, but if he comes back to the NBA hobbled (again) you can bet it won't be a whole heck of a lot, at least not compared to what a fully healthy Barbosa could net the club on the open market.
Brazil isn't the best basketball in the world, at least as far as imported North Americans are concerned, but it's good that Barbosa will be able to play close to home while waiting out the lockout.