In an interview with the Russian media published earlier this week, David Blatt, the Cavaliers troubled rookie coach, declined to comment on whether he'd like to work with Andrei Kirilenko again. However, Blatt left no doubt that he's a huge fan of the player he coached as a member of Team Russia..
Blatt, an American citizen, coached the Russian national team for six years in FIBA competition.
"It is unfortunate that Andrei Kirilenko is not playing, because, from my point of view, he is the greatest Russian basketball player of all time," Blatt told Sport-Express' Slava Malamud, according to a Google translation . "He did so much for Russian basketball and for me personally, and I very much support him."
Blatt coached Team Russia to both a FIBA Eurobasket championship in 2007 and an Olympic bronze in 2012. Both teams were anchored by Kirilenko. But when asked about a rumored trade between the Nets and Cavaliers involving Kirilenko, Blatt said he could not comment.
"In the NBA, there are very strict rules that prohibit coaches from commenting on such things about players on other teams. So in this respect, I will not say anything."
Malamud then asked if AK-47 was easy to coach.
"On my Russian national team, he was a true leader - as a player and a person. Of all the guys who I've ever coached, he was one of the best. I mean as a quality player and person. One of the best. Without a doubt."
The Cavs are reportedly "monitoring" Kirilenko's status with the Nets as Brooklyn tries to trade him. As a reporter for the Cleveland Plain-Dealer noted, the Cavs are in need of a wing defender. Cleveland of course has been the NBA's biggest disappointment and a lot of the criticism about their slow start has fallen on Blatt.
The Blatt interview was one of two Sport-Express did this week that involved Nets players. Timur Rostomov spoke with Vasily Karasev, the father of Sergey Karasev and a Russian league coach who at one point coached Sergey. Vasily Karasev said he and his son speak regularly and that Sergey is frustrated by his lack of playing time.
"We constantly call up and communicate with our son," said Vasily. "The whole family. We support him as much we can."
He admitted the 21-year-old Net isn't where he wants to be in his career. "He has already spent one season in the NBA on the bench, and he is already 21 years old. He needs to play, not sit," said Vasily Karasev. "He understands and he's distressed. Salary does not interest him. He just wants to get on the court, to grow and develop. As I understand it, the coach Lionel Hollins does not see him in the lineup, so Sergei difficult to influence the situation. He needs to be patient."
In an earlier interview this week, Vasily Karasev said the lack of playing time is depressing for his son.
"He sits on the bench. Sitting and not playing. It is clear, of course, he's already achieved a lot: the Olympic medal, and the victory at the Universiade, now NBA. I do not think it is for him the best (experience). He needs to just play. Now, he almost comes to tears, he really wants to play."
Last week, there were reports that the two Russians, both of whom have been favorites of team ownership, might be traded to Philadelphia in a salary dump, with the Nets getting little more than a trade exception in return. Team insiders denied that, suggesting there were better offers for Kirilenko.
- Sergey Karasev's father says Karasev frustrated with lack of playing time - Devin Kharpertian - The Brooklyn Game