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Leandro Barbosa considering leaving NBA for Brazil

Leandro Barbosa, Tyrus Thomas

Toronto Raptors’ Leandro Barbosa, center, scores past Charlotte Bobcats’ Tyrus Thomas during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Toronto, Sunday, March 13, 2011. The Raptors lost to the Bobcats 90-95. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darren Calabrese)


For all his speed and promise, Leandro Barbosa has never been able to find comfortable footing in the NBA.

And now the current Raptor is thinking about leaving the NBA behind and returning to play in his native Brazil, where he is a legend. Barbosa has a $7.6 million player option for next season with the Raptors but may turn it down, according to Michael Grange at the Globe and Mail.

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.

Toronto pays a lot of money to guys that aren’t that good, Barbosa leaving would be a boost to rebuilding this roster. Next season’s highest paid Raptor will be Jose Calderon ($9.8 million) followed by Andrea Bargnani ($9.3 million). Barbosa would be third highest. Without Barbosa the Raptors would only have about $40 million committed for next season.