In talking to David Aldridge Thursday, Andrei Kirilenko's agent was quite open about why his client was willing to give up money, a lot of money, to sign with the Nets.
"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. That doesn't include the $6 million he made two years ago in Russia playing for CSKA Moscow. Nor endorsements. Separately, Aldridge reported that the Russian star "Didn't want 2 wait for s/t that may not have happened."
Indeed, the Timberwolves declined to help with a sign-and-trade that would have sent Kirilenko to San Antonio.
But none of that hasn't stopped "whispers" from other teams who apparently think Kirilenko and Mikhail Prokhorov have some side deal. Zach Lowe tweeted this morning...
AK 47 deal already drawing confused and angry whispers from other teams.— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) July 11, 2013
Jared Dudley of the Clippers also raised suspicions on his twitter account.
Another Russian AK47 for the NBA opted out of a 10 million dollar contract to sign a contact with the Nets for 3 million?!!!' #nocomment— Jared Dudley (@JaredDudley619) July 12, 2013
Indeed, as noted in these pages, Kirilenko has long standing personal and professional relationships with Mikhail Prokhorov and Deron Williams. Is that something nefarious or a reason for Kirilenko to trust them?
By Friday afternoon, Adrian Wojnarowski was reporting some teams want an investigation into the signing, quoting one GM as saying, "There should be a probe. How obvious is it?" But Woj noted that charges like this are difficult to prove and the Nets are prepared to deal with the insinuations ... and the jealousy.
Is any of this likely to stop the Nets signing of AK-47? Hardly. he won't be the first NBA player to take less money, particularly near the end of his career, to have a chance to win. Ray Allen did it, and so did the Heat Big Three in 2010, agreeing to take less than the max so Miami could sign other veteran players.
Moreover, Barry Petchesky of Deadspin thinks he detects a whiff of xenophobia among a group of owners with their own skeletons.
"Maybe Kirilenko chose Brooklyn over Minneapolis because he wants to live somewhere with a decent amount of Russian speakers. Maybe he wanted to play with Deron Williams again. There are all sorts of plausible explanations that don't require Prokhorov to take a page from Karla. The fact that Prokhorov can't sign a 32-year-old backup without bringing down the wrath of the other owners indicates less about his methods than it does about how threatened they're feeling these days."
- Brooklyn Nets' deal with Andrei Kirilenko raises suspicions from NBA rivals - Adrian Wojnarowski - Yahoo! Sports
- Everyone Thinks The Nets Are Up To Some Shady Shit - Barry Petchesky - Deadspin