Andrei Kirilenko will return to the NBA
According to CSKA Moscow president Andrey Vatutin, Andrei Kirilenko will be returning to the NBA next season.
The only question now is where he will play.
In an interview with Russian newspaper Sport-Express, Vatutin says that the team has been in constant contact with Kirilenko since CSKA was upset in the Euroleague Final against Panathinaikos in Istanbul – a game that Deron Williams, Nets general manager Billy King and Russian billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov all attended.
“Over the past year, thanks to the player, interest in Russia to our sport has grown,” Vatutin said, according to a Google translation of the article. “Andrew gave us a lot – both on the court and outside it. This was a true professional.”
But Vatutin went on to say that Kirilenko’s priority is to sign with an NBA team in the foreseeable future. Vatutin said that he has “an assumption” about where Kirilenko will end up, but that it’s his choice.
The Nets have long been linked to Kirilenko, thanks to his friendship with Prokhorov, who he endorsed in the billionaire’s failed presidential bid earlier this year, and from his several years playing alongside Williams in Utah. But Kirilenko would have to accept the minimum salary to play for the Nets this season, as players who didn’t play in the NBA last year are ineligible to be signed-and-traded – despite the fact that Utah holds his Bird rights. And after Kirilenko averaged 14.1 points and 7.5 rebounds in 17 Euroleague games for CSKA, it seems unlikely he’d lack interest from NBA teams.