Former teammate Amundson eases transition for Barbosa
March 19, 2012 -- As a former teammate, Lou Amundson would be an obvious source for inside information about the Pacers for newcomer Leandro Barbosa.
Only it's not the kind of inside information you might suspect.
"He's played long enough to know the basketball stuff," Amundson said with a smile. "It's all the other stuff, like 'What's his name?' and 'Where's the training room?' That's the stuff I need to help him with."
When Barbosa makes his debut with the Pacers Tuesday against the Los Angeles Clippers in Bankers Life Fieldhouse, he will do so with a familiar partner on the second unit. Amundson and Barbosa were teammates in Phoenix from 2008-10. Both high-energy players had significant roles in the Suns' run to the Western Conference Finals in 2010.
Both will be similarly important to the Pacers, who hope to win their first postseason series since 2005.
"He's a very explosive scorer off the bench," Amundson said. "He'll bring a lot of quickness and athleticism to our team. He's a quick and explosive scorer that can really change the game with his speed.
"That's kind of an identity that we're trying to build here and we're trying to embrace so I think he definitely fits into that type of role."
Acquired last Thursday from Toronto for a 2012 second-round pick and cash, the 6-3, 175-pound Barbosa has been one of the most productive bench players in the league, averaging 14.4 points, 2.7 assists and 2.4 rebounds in 26.9 minutes over the past six seasons.
He brings not only electrifying speed and scoring punch off the bench, he brings a wealth of postseason experience. He played in the Western Conference Finals three times with the Suns (2005, '06 and '10). His 64 playoff games are more than anyone on the Pacers' roster (Jeff Foster is second with 53) -- and in fact exceed the combined total of the starting lineup (50).
Traded twice before in his career -- including draft night 2003 when the Spurs took him in the first round and promptly dealt him to the Suns for a future first-round pick (that turned out to be David Lee in 2005) -- Barbosa should be able to handle the transition smoothly.
"This is a business," he said. "You never know what can happen when you're sleeping at night. It happened with me. I woke up in the morning and I was traded. It's a new life for me, a new family and I'm very excited to start."
He'll get his first chance against the Clippers. Though his ultimate role remains to be seen, he could have a big impact on the rotations. The prospect of Barbosa and George Hill coming off the bench as a high-velocity backcourt is intriguing.
"I play many times against him, especially in the playoffs when I was with the Suns," Barbosa said of Hill. "I know what he can do and very happy to be by him side-to-side. He's really enjoying the team and everything that's been going on with the team. I'm on the same page."
However things shake out, Barbosa gives Coach Frank Vogel an additional weapon.
"He has an offensive instinct you can’t teach," Vogel said after Barbosa's first full practice with the team Monday. "H knows how to attack the basket, he knows how to read the defense. H made more impressive passes today than he did shots. W know he can score the ball, so we’re excited what he can bring to the table."
Just how quickly Barbosa can get up to speed remains to be seen but the Pacers could use a boost. They've lost two in a row and six of eight.
"He's a smart kid and he listens well so I think with the group we have here he'll fit in nicely," Amundson said. "With any trade there's a period of adjustment. I don't think there's any way around that. But once he does get adjusted he'll be a good fit for us."