Just when the Boston Celtics appeared to be on a roll, winning seven of their last eight games, they received bad news on Tuesday that shooting guard Leandro Barbosa would be out for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL in his left knee.
Barbosa suffered the injury late in the third quarter of the Celtics’ 94-91 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats on Monday. He was driving to the basket against Charlottes’ Ramon Sessions when he appeared to tweak his knee. Barbosa then advanced the ball to Jeff Green and fell to the court. He had to be carried off by rookie center Fab Melo and head trainer Ed Lacerte.
An MRI performed on Tuesday at New England Baptist Hospital.
This is the third season-ending injury for a Celtics player in the last three weeks. Point guard Rajon Rondo tore his ACL on Jan. 25 and is scheduled to undergo treatment within the next couple of weeks to repair the partial tear. Rookie power forward Jared Sullinger left a game against the Sacramento Kings on Jan. 30 due to back spasms and underwent lumbar disk surgery the following day.
Fortunately for the Celtics, they expect Rondo and Sullinger to be ready right before next season’s training camp. But for Barbosa, his future remains uncertain for next season. He signed a one-year deal with team and his injury makes him a candidate to be bought out if the Celtics need an additional roster spot for the rest of the season.
Barbosa appeared in 41 games this season and was an instant lift off the bench. He averaged 5.2 points and 1.4 assists, shot 43 percent from the field and 38.3 percent from the 3-point line.
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The 30-year-old saw his minutes increase when Rondo went out for the season. But it was reported by ESPN Brazil last month that Barbosa wanted to leave the Celtics due to his limited playing time behind a healthy Rondo. But Barbosa denied the report last week.
“I got my chance now,” he told ESPN. “And I’m very happy to be on the court and help my teammates.”
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has said that he will have the roster filled out by the end of this month, which means he could make a trade by the NBA’s Feb. 21 trade deadline.
The Celtics currently have no true ball handler on the team, even though they have three true guards on the roster with Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee and Jason Terry. They may turn to their D-League affiliate in Maine and sign guard Shelvin Mack to a 10-day contract.
Even if they sign Mack, every Celtic will have to raise his play if the team wants to its lock on a playoff berth. The Celtics will heavily rely on veterans Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to keep the momentum going forward.