Some may wonder why a superstar would leave $10 million on the table to play for another team for less, then again, not many players are Andrei Kirilenko.
Kirilenko, who would leave opt-out of a more lucrative deal from the Minnesota Timberwolves, signed a two-year, $3.18 million contract with the Brooklyn Nets, with the second year is a player option.
It is an odd move considering Kirilenko walked away from over $10 million and got much less to go to a contender. No doubt having Mikhail Prokhorov as the owner had to be appealing to his fellow countryman. Brooklyn has gone all in with the additions of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in the offseason. This had to appeal to him in spite of knowing he will come off the bench more likely than not.
Kirilenko will no doubt be the backup small forward with Pierce on the roster. He will also look to get lots of minutes with rookie head coach Jason Kidd saying he will limit Pierce’s playing time to keep him fresh.
It’s a bargain for Brooklyn to have a starting-caliber small forward as the backup.
Kirilenko wants to win a championship and it is admirable that he would take less money to go to a better situation than he had in Minnesota. Of course, this being the NBA, there are almost always people who will cry foul. Some of the NBA owners are crying to the league office because Brooklyn signed with the mid-level exception.
He had better offers on the table and spurned them.
Automatically, they felt there was an under the table agreement with Prokhorov and wanted the transaction investigated. In this writer’s opinion, it sounds mostly like sour grapes from fans of lesser teams.
Or as they say in Russian, “Nyet!”
Kirilenko saw a situation that he liked and went for it. This is not the first time that people in the NBA have complained about supposed collusion.
When LeBron James and Chris Bosh signed with the Miami Heat in 2010, Mark Cuban had the same suspicions. Those were never proven and it became a moot point. The rest of the NBA needs to get over the fact that Brooklyn appealed to Kirilenko more than their respective teams.
Brooklyn got even more depth on a very impressive squad on paper in Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez, Pierce and Garnett are the opening lineup if healthy.
That is a lot of star power and more importantly, production.
It is a killer team and having Kirilenko as depth is important because he can go into the starting lineup if something happens to Pierce? Prokhorov is clearly willing to spend to build a winner and got a potential starter to play for his team.
Now in Brooklyn, Kirilenko is an important piece to the Nets championship puzzle and I expect he will contribute nicely to a potentially great team.