Leandro Barbosa arrived in Boston from Brazil and was working out prior to the Celtics’ 88-79 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers in their exhibition finale Sunday at TD Garden, although he is being delayed because of work visa issues. Neither he nor the Celtics know what role he will fill.
The Celtics signed Barbosa to a one-year deal for the veteran minimum to spell Courtney Lee, Rajon Rondo, Jason Terry, and Avery Bradley. Barbosa, 29, is not a natural point guard and might be lost in the shuffle once Bradley returns from shoulder surgery. Barbosa told coach Doc Rivers he just wanted to be part of a championship contender.
“I don’t think he’s a point or [Terry’s] a point or Courtney’s a point or Avery’s a point, for that matter,” Rivers said. “I think they all have point guard tendencies. At times they can play it and when When they play with each other, two of them on the floor at the same time, it allows them to be comfortable at the position.
“[Saturday] night, in the fourth quarter, Courtney and Jet were on the floor, and if the point guard pressured Jet, then Courtney brought it up. And they kind of piggy-backed and they did a pretty good job of that.”
Barbosa should add to that equation. The Celtics have eight days to prepare for their season opener against the Miami Heat, giving Barbosa a chance to get extensive practice time.
“ One thing I will give him credit for, I think he had us zeroed in on his radar and he understood all the players in front of him,’’ Rivers said. “He didn’t care. He kept saying that, which is refreshing. I was very honest with him. There’s a chance [he may not play] with the numbers. He said, ‘I’m not here to ruffle any feathers. I just want to be on a team that wins and hopefully I can help.’ ’’
Barbosa was among a handful of veteran players looking for jobs. Rivers said he wasn’t surprised Barbosa accepted the veteran minimum.
“I wanted to be here; it’s a great team,” Barbosa said. “There’s a lot of history about it. There’s such good players on the team and experience that I think it’s good for myself. I can learn from them and that’s a great idea. If Doc puts me on the court, I know it’s a lot of guards, but I’m just happy to be here right now. So, we’ll see what’s going to happen.”
Fab Melo scored his first 2 points of the exhibition season in Saturday’s victory over the Knicks as the rookie continues his methodical development. Melo is not likely to play much this season and could spend extensive time in the D-League. He is enjoying the NBA experience. , understanding that his road to production will be a long one.
“I feel like I need to be more on the court to feel more comfortable and to get my confidence back,” he said. “I think when I start practicing and start playing I’ll feel more comfortable. It’s been a good learning process right now. I’ve just got to be more patient because the game is so fast for me, but I am going to get down there and it will slow down. I am going to try to listen to the guys and try to do as best as I can.”
Veteran teammates have embraced Melo because he is showing willingness to learn and impressing the organization with his work ethic.
“They are all trying to help me,” he said. “I am comfortable with that. I am very happy about that. I’m trying to listen to them as much as I can.”
The Celtics used various rotations in Sunday’s loss, starting Jeff Green at shooting guard along with Brandon Bass at power forward. Green and Rondo each scored 12 points. Rondo added 10 assists and Green had 10 rebounds. The 76ers played most of their regulars, resting Andrew Bynum, Kwame Brown, and Thaddeus Young.
Dorell Wright, acquired from Golden State in the offseason, had a game-high 20 points. and Nick Young added 15.
Rivers said he has figured out preferred rotations. after eight preseason games.
“We know what we like. I think it’s pretty simple to figure out your starting lineup,” he said. “I do think this is going to be an unusual team in that I don’t think we’ll have a starting lineup for most of the year,’’ he said. “I think we may move that one guy around a lot.”