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Kirilenko Bids Farewell to the Jazz; Speculation re: Prokhorov Rises

In 2007, Russia beat Spain in the FIBA European championship and Andrei Kirilenko was the MVP, outplaying Pau Gasol. The owner of CSKA Moscow, AK-47's old team, thought it would be a good idea to bring Kirilenko home and looked into buying out his contract, which then had $63 million outstanding.

At the same time, Kirilenko reportedly went to the Jazz owner to ask that he be let out of his contract.  The Jazz said no.

Now, that contract is 50 days from its end. Kirilenko and his family leave Utah this week for Russia where he'll play for the national team and there's speculation that Mikhail Prokhorov's new team is interested in him. The connection seems to make sense.

CSKA's coach back in 2007, Ettore Messina, has said Prokhorov so wanted to bring Kirilenko home that he pressed management to get it done, the only time he ever interfered in basketball operations while Messina was coach.  "It would have been a big patriotic thing for Kirilenko to come back," said Messina, "but he had a contract with the Jazz and they wouldn't let him go."

There's more of course: Billy King admitted trade talks with Utah last February started off with a discussion of Kirilenko's availability. For his part, the Jazz forward, who advised Prokhorov on the Nets purchase, recently called the team, with Prokhorov and his old teammate, Deron Williams, "very interesting".