Mike Mazzeo spoke to Andrei Kirilenko about his interview with a leading Russian sports tabloid and the Nets forward says it misconstrued his feelings toward his coach last season.
Mazzeo tweeted after his conversation with AK-47...
"It sounds in the (SovSport) article like I have a negativity (re: Jason leaving), but that's completely untrue." -- Andrei Kirilenko #Nets— Mike Mazzeo (@MazzESPN) July 21, 2014
In the article, as translated, Kirilenko appeared to suggest that Jason Kidd wasn't up to handling the pressure of coaching in New York and attributed that to his departure for Milwaukee.
According to SovSport, Kirilenko said of Kidd's coaching. "So the pressure is huge. And Kidd couldn’t handle it. Or maybe didn’t want to." He was also described in the article as saying Kidd's coaching in general was "less than a success."
In talking to Mazzeo, Kirilenko clarified the context of the conversation he had with SovSports. He said he was "speculating" as to why Kidd left. He did not dispute that he spoke of the pressure on Kidd, noting....
"It’s tough to kind of judge him because he obviously came into a lot of pressure. New York is a city with a lot of legends and a lot of history, and every move you make is under a microscope. So I guess it’s easier for the coach to start [fresh] with a younger group of guys, with his own vision, in a smaller city."
Kirilenko's had criticized Kidd last season. Both he and his wife, Masha, had publicly questioned Kidd's style and moves last season. Kirilenko told The Brooklyn Game in January. "In the beginning of the season when we started, we were kind of wondering, 'what are we doing? Why are we doing this?' A lot of talking, like people sometimes didn’t understand."
During the playoffs when he was getting few minutes, including a DNP, Masha posted a message to Instagram. It showed a picture of her husband sitting on the bench with a caption, "… And are you Kidding like Jason," perhaps a reference to Nelly’s song, "Hot in Herre," which includes the line, "I’m just kiddin’ like Jason."
Kirilenko finished with career lows, including in minutes, last season, and missed 35 games, mostly to recurring back spasms. In the article he spoke of new coach Lionel Hollins in a positive light compared to Kidd. The two will be traveling together soon, Mazzeo tweeted.
Kirilenko said he hadn't spoke to Hollins very much just yet, but both are going to Basketball Without Borders in South Africa shortly— Mike Mazzeo (@MazzESPN) July 21, 2014
In talking with Mazzeo, AK-47 praised Hollins' coaching style...
"[Lionel is] known as a defensive specialist. I know he was great in Memphis and built a great system which they still play there with a lot of ball movement, using their bigs a lot, not just playing through the post but using them as passers kind of like what Chicago is doing with [Joakim] Noah."
As for Kirilenko's suggestion that the Nets could compete for a title, Kirilenko did not dispute that, saying that Brook Lopez's return can counter the loss of Paul Pierce. He also referenced his boss' promise to get married if the team didn't win a championship by this season.
Kirilenko joked re: Prokhorov's 5-year plan that getting married is nothing, just a technicality "but I hope we can deliver on his promise."— Mike Mazzeo (@MazzESPN) July 21, 2014