Brooklyn Nets to sign Andrei Kirilenko

Christof Koepsel

Mikhail Prokhorov has his first Russian player ... and not just any Russian player but the best the country has ever produced.

Andrei Kirlenko has agreed to sign with the Nets for the mini-MLE. Under the terms of the deal, Kirilenko will sign a two-year contract with a player option in year two starting at $3.1 million.

Vecsey, known to have the best Nets sources, broke the news...

A Nets official said that with the signing, the team had moved from "Plan B" to "Plan A+." Only yesterday, Billy King had said that the Nets were moving to "Plan B" following Bojan Bogdanovic's decision to stay in Europe.

He will not come cheaply, reports Ken Berger, who confirmed the Vecsey report.

Kirilenko, a personal friend and former teammate of Deron Williams, was believed to be in line for a contract at least twice as big, but it now appears that the 6'9" Russian forward has agreed to a lesser deal but with an organization that is likely to win and win big.

Perhaps more significantly, Kirilenko will join Prokhorov, the NBA's first Russian and European owner. Prokhorov and Kirilenko have been close for years. AK-47 played for CSKA Moscow when Prokhorov owned it and Prokhorov tried to buy out Kirilenko's Jazz contract in 2007 after he led Team Russia to the European championship. Last year, the Nets made a last-minute and admittedly half-hearted attempt to sign Kirilenko.

David Aldridge reports that Prokhorov helped in the recruiting.

Kirilenko, 32, played for the Timberwolves last season, averaging 12.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.9 blocks. He shot 50.7 percent overall, the best of his career, and 29.2 from deep. He had a player option for $10 million this coming season, but declined it, hoping to get a longer term deal. The Spurs tried to arrange a sign-and-trade with the T-Wolves that would have paid him $7 million to start, but Minnesota declined to help.

Rather than wait for another S&T to materialize (and the Nets couldn't have accepted him in an S&T), Kirilenko moved to sign with the Nets, reports Aldridge.

The NBA.com and TNT correspondent spoke with Kirilenko's agent, Marc Fleisher who said that the chance to win in Brooklyn was as big a draw as nationalist pride.

"At this point of his career, he's fortunate to have made a lot of money," Fleischer told Aldridge. "And while money is important, I think they convinced him that signing with a team that had a chance win--and that had Russian ownership--was too good to pass up."

According to baskeball-reference.com, Kirilenko has made more than $100 million in NBA salaries alone.

Kirilenko is the last NBA player to achieve a 5-by-5 game: five or more points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks, having accomplished it in 2006 with the Jazz. It was his third 5-by-5. His 2004 All-Star appearance brings to 36 the number of All-Star appearances by Nets players, joining Kevin Garnett (15); Paul Pierce (10); Joe Johnson (6); Deron Williams (3) and Brook Lopez (1).

Once Kirilenko signs, the Nets will have 14 players under contract. They're unlikely to sign a 15th since even a vets minimum signing would cost them $4 million in salary and luxury tax, added to a bill that already tops $180 million. Bottom line: it's gonna be one hell of a press conference next week.

As Bobby Marks, Nets assistant GM tweeted this evening...

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