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Andrei Kirilenko: I couldn't pass up a chance to win a title in Brooklyn

Streeter Lecka

In his first comments since agreeing to join the Nets, Andrei Kirilenko tells a Russian publication that money was a consideration for him, but that he couldn't resist a chance to win a championship. He admits as well that both Mikhail Prokhorov and Deron Williams were big in helping him make up his mind, and that although there was a "family debate" on what to do, "it became clear that a combination of factors won Brooklyn a landslide victory."

Kirilenko told Pavel Osipov of Sport-Express, one of Russia's leading basketball writers, that the decision was not easy. Money was a consideration, but playing with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett is a "a dream" and that "for the first time in 12 seasons in the NBA, I'm going to play for a club that is now one of the favorites for the championship."

"What really influenced my decision now was the trade with Boston," Kirilenko admitted.

As for opting out of his $10 million contract with Minnesota, Kirilenko said that the change from David Kahn to Flip Sanders changed everything...that and the non-stop rebuilding in the Twin Cities.

"A year ago I was planning a completely different scenario," he told Osipov. "I thought I would stay in Minnesota for the rest of my career. But these are the NBA realities: things often don’t go the way you expect them to. The previous general manager has left the team, and the situation turned 180 degrees."

He admitted as well, "It is really hard to constantly find a motivation when you are playing for a team that doesn’t make the playoffs."

As for Prokhorov, Kirilenko called his ownership of the Nets a big positive. "Of course it is one of the main pluses for me. I know him for a long time, going back to the period when I was playing for CSKA before I first moved to the NBA. You can’t say that we are friends. But we have a good relationship and we support each other."

Same is true of Deron Williams, he said, noting that D-Will called him Thursday. The relationship between the two families also factored in. He told Osipov their children are friendly and looking forward to renewing old acquaintances. "By the way, a family question has also influenced my decision: it is great for my kids to reunite with Deron’s kids – they used to be friends."

Kirilenko said he understands his playing time may be reduced but that what matters at this point in his career is winning.

As for the "gossip" about a side deal with Prokhorov, Kirilenko dismissed it. "It is silly not just to talk about it – even to think of it. Masha and I have argued what is better: to go after more money or play where you want and to try and reach a serious goal. In my career, I have made a decent sum of money. Indecent even. (Laughs). And to not use a chance that the Nets provide would not be right. The times when I could have a desire to make as much as possible have passed."

Alexander Chernykh of Rush'n Hoops provided the translation.