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NEW YORK — A day after clearing roster space by waiving two players who were unable to prove they could be productive NBA point guards, the Celtics signed veteran Leandro Barbosa to a one-year contract, according to an NBA source.
Barbosa, 29, played with the Toronto Raptors and Indiana Pacers last season, averaging 11.1 points in 21.6 minutes, giving both teams offense off the bench. Barbosa, the 28th overall pick in the 2003 draft, has spent most of his career as a reserve, starting with the Phoenix Suns as a primary backup to Steve Nash.
On Tuesday, the Celtics waived Dionte Christmas and Jamar Smith, who they had hoped would assume the duties of backup point guard.
Christmas was signed because of his performance during summer league but proved not to have a true position.
Smith is a natural shooting guard who collected just 2 assists in four exhibition games while Christmas was more of a small forward.
Barbosa has averaged 2.4 assists in 24.6 minutes for his career and is also a dangerous outside shooter. A decent ball-handler, Barbosa played his first seven seasons with the Suns — winning the Sixth Man of the Year Award in 2007 — before being traded to the Raptors in the Hedo Turkoglu deal in July 2010.
Barbosa spent 2½ seasons with the Raptors before being dealt to the Pacers last March for a second-round pick in a trade-deadline deal. He averaged 5.7 points in Indiana’s 11 playoff games but remained a free agent throughout the summer, likely because of his asking price.
The Celtics are dealing with the double shoulder surgery to Avery Bradley and sudden retirement of Keyon Dooling. Bradley is due to return in December, and but coach Doc Rivers is more comfortable playing Bradley at shooting guard.
Rivers also said he would like veteran Jason Terry to play more shooting guard, although Terry has offered to play the point.
Barbosa has experience at both positions and, like Terry, can score in bunches.
Barbosa is likely to become part of the Celtics’ second team with Terry, Brandon Bass or Jared Sullinger, and Darko Milicic. He now has 11 days to prepare for the season. It is uncertain whether he will be available for the Celtics’ matchup with the Nets in Brooklyn Thursday night.
Gary Washburn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @gwashNBAGlobe.