In a surprise, Andrei Kirilenko will return to Nets practice Monday, a team insider tells NetsDaily. AK-47 took leave to attend to "family matter" 10 days ago and has been at home since. The Nets are reportedly seeking to trade Kirilenko after Lionel Hollins said he didn't see a place for him on team.
Kirilenko, 33, is in the final year of his two year deal with the Nets, earning $3.3 million. The news that he will return to practice comes two days after Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Nets might have to wait until AK-47's family matter is resolved before dealing him.
Hollins had said he did not expect Kirilenko to return to the team after the leave of absence. Now, he will be asked to explain this turn of events when he meets with the media early this afternoon. Practice starts at 12:30.
The next question, of course, is whether Kirlenko will see any time on the court ... and why. The Nets could be showcasing him to help improve his trade prospects. Woj said that there is interest from other teams, including the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are coached by David Blatt, his coach on Team Russia, and the Los Angeles Clipppers. Kirilenko had played only 36 minutes in seven games this season and hasn't played since November 13 against the Warriors when he played only four minutes.
In an interview with a Russian sports publication at the time of his leave, Andrei Kirilenko said "optimism is over" for him and that Hollins had told him after first few games of the season, "Andrei, I do not see your role on the team." Kirilenko says he was surprised and contends he can "probably help the team.".