It’s hard to really break news about Andrei Kirilenko’s free-agent signing during a photo shoot, but at least we get a glimpse into Kirilenko’s thought process with this brief interview for Moscow, Russia-based PROSport magazine.
“The team will not be chosen by how big the offer is, but by a number of factors – the coach, roster, the city to a lesser degree, “ Kirilenko said regarding his NBA future.
While the New Jersey Nets have not yet reached an agreement with Kirilenko, they are believed to be nearing a deal with the 6-foot-9 small forward and Russian superstar who seeks a three-year contract worth $9 million for each year.
Both sides are anxious to finalize the deal in the coming days according to sources close to the Nets and Kirilenko.
Playing for the Nets would represent more than an end to Kirilenko’s open market flurry that reportedly had 16 NBA teams courting him – with the Sacramento Kings also making a major push – but also a basketball reunion with strong ties to Russia and Salt Lake City.
With the Nets, Kirilenko would be re-united with former Utah Jazz teammate Deron Williams, and also billionaire team owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who previously owned CSKA Moscow where Kirilenko stars. Prokhorov and Kirilenko have remained in touch throughout the process, with the Nets owner asking Kirilenko not to rush into a final decision until the team could make him a final offer, according to one person familiar with their relationship.
As of now, Kirilenko is going through “non-contact” practice drills with CSKA and still feels pain in his injured left shoulder, which he suffered in mid-November.
Kirilenko is also apparently growing visibly frustrated with the Russian media and continuous peppering of questions regarding his free-agent status in the NBA and with the Nets.
“Everyone is talking about this move. What’s the point of all these talks? I do not like to be like a woodpecker who repeats the same thing 100 times a day,” he explained in the video.
Roughly four weeks ago, Kirilenko suffered a broken nose and injured his left shoulder with CSKA Moscow in a game against Krasnye Krylia, only to return to action to many peoples surprise after undergoing a nose job and playing with a protective plastic mask. Playing against Khimki in PBL play, Kirilenko went 0-3 in about 7 minutes of action in a 75-65 CSKA loss on December 10.
“I think it was too early to let Kirilenko play, he was not ready yet,” said CSKA head coach Jonas Kazlauskas afterward the game.
Before the injury the 6-foot-9 was averaging 13.8 points and nine rebounds in the Euroleague, and leading the league in scoring for CSKA. Kirilenko has not played since that game against Khimki and it appears his stretch of playing with CSKA has come to an end as he deliberates his next NBA move, likely to New Jersey.
“In our family we make collegial decisions. It’s not like someone personally wants or doesn’t want anything. We weigh pros and cons obviously taking into count our children’s interest where it would be more comfortable for them,” he continued.
In the next few days, part of that “pros” list for Kirilenko will include reuniting with Williams, Prokhorov, and securing his spot for the eventual rise of the Brooklyn Nets.
“Of course it’s me making the main decision.”
Video shot by Russian basketball journalist, Vladimir Spivak