Suns don't let Barbosa go, give guard extension

Updated: August 4, 2006, 8:48 PM ET
Associated Press

PHOENIX -- Leandro Barbosa always wanted to stay in Phoenix. The only question was whether the Suns would make it worth his while.

Point Guard
Phoenix Suns

57 13.1 2.6 2.8 .481 .755

They answered that question Friday, signing Barbosa to a five-year, $33 million contract extension that begins after the 2007-08 season. The five-year extension is the maximum allowed by NBA rules.

"The Suns really like me," Barbosa said at a U.S. Airways Center news conference. "And I like being here."

After undergoing a physical, Barbosa said he had called home to tell his family that the deal was official.

"I guess right now my mom [Ivete] has been crying on my brother's shoulder," Barbosa said.

The Suns, who have reached the Western Conference finals each of the last two seasons, believe the 6-foot-3, 188-pound Barbosa is a critical part of the formula that has made them one of the NBA's elite teams. Barbosa started only 11 games last year, but club officials think his potential is enormous.

"Leandro Barbosa represents everything that we've built our team on -- character, speed, 3-point shooting," Suns vice president of basketball operations David Griffin said. "He's really the epitome of our team's style of play."

Barbosa's speed makes him a tough matchup for opposing defenses. But he became a more complete player last year under the tutelage of assistant coach Dan D'Antoni, the brother of Suns head coach and general manager Mike D'Antoni.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press