How Andrei Kirilenko became a Net

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Jared Zwerling in Bleacher Report writes about a phone call that may have changed the Nets' fate, one between Andrei Kirilenko and his agent, Marc Fleisher.  The day before, Kirilenko had told Fleisher he was not interest in Billy King's offer of the mini-MLE, which was all he had left after the big Draft Day trade and other moves. The next day, AK-47 called Fleisher back.

"Andrei and his wife, (Masha), talked it over, and then he said, 'I'm going to do it,'" Fleisher told Zwerling. "It came as a complete shock to me after he showed no willingness even the day before. He basically thought that while he wasn't opposed to making more money, it came down to playing for a competitive team that could win a title. Also, his wife is in the fashion industry and New York is great for that."

It was a big more complicated than that. The Timberwolves reported vetoed a sign-and-trade with the Spurs that would have reportedly paid Kirilenko $7 million a year. The Warriors looked at Kirilenko as well, but went with Andre Iguodala.  And the Cavaliers had decided to spend their money --about $5 million-- on Andrew Bynum, leaving Kirilenko's reported asking price of $8 million a bit pie-in-the-sky.

Still, as Zwerling writes, it was "one of the biggest financial steals in NBA history."

Kirilenko, the only active player with more than one of the elusive "5x5" games, is now seen as a critical piece in the Nets on-court and off-court plans. As Kevin Garnett said Monday, "I will say that having Kirilenko here I thought was a huge signing."

Kirilenko himself is quite pleased with the way things worked out (and credits Deron Williams, his Utah runningmate, with a big assist in the negotiations."All my friends, all the people around are asking a lot of questions about it. They said, 'We changed our priorities. We're going to cheer for Brooklyn right now.' It's a very good buzz."

Meanwhile, Adrian Wojnarowski confirms that it was a call from AK-47 that drew Jason Kidd from the bench in Orlando Summer League.

  • The Secret Ingredient of the Nets' Title Hopes and Popularity? Andrei Kirilenko - Jared Zwerling - Bleacher Report
  • Jason Kidd knows scrutiny will come as he makes leap to Nets coach - - Adrian Wojnarowski - Yahoo! Sports
  • Nets’ Kirilenko sacrificing cash for title chase - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
  • Nets bench deepest in NBA; Key to championship - Michael Scotto - Sheridan Hoops
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