The Wolves consummated their Plan B today with the announcement they had signed free agent forward Andrei Kirilenko.
Greetings. Kent Youngblood here. Just got off a teleconference with Wolves president of basketball operations David Kahn, who talked about the signing of Kirilenko, how Kahn has managed to reform his roster and what lies ahead in the offseason for the team.
First, Kirilenko. The addition of the veteran Russian forward gives coach Rick Adelman a versatile wing player, both on offense and defense. But particularly defense, where his ability to cover both small and power forwards figures to be a big plus.
To be sure, if the Wolves had succeeded in plucking Nicolas Batum away from Portland, they would have gotten a better outside shooter than Kirilenko is. But make no mistake. The team badly needed an upgrade at the position, which is why they were willing, if not thrilled, to trade forward Wes Johnson to Phoenix to get the salary cap room to sign Kirilenko.
"First of all, he's actually taller than (Batum)," Kahn said. "And longer. He is a very long wing player. He hits all the boxes were were looking for in finding a player that we didn't have on our roster. He's capable of playing multiple positions, capable of being effective and scoring without plays being called for him. He's a very hard cutter, which we think, in our offense, will be a real welcome addition. And he has a lot of big-game experience."
It is another move in the remaking of the roster. On Tuesday next week Brandon Roy will be introduced to the media. Backup center Greg Stiemsma could also be signed next week, perhaps Thursday. And the team has also acquired players like Chase Budinger and Alexay Shved, Kirilenko's Russian Olympic teammate.
Kahn would appear to have created a roster with position flexibility that fits right into coach Rick Adelman's scheme. Although, to be fair, Kahn took issue with that idea, noting that Adelman had showed a lot of flexibility in his career, tailoring schemes to fit his players.
But, having said that, this is a roster that Adelman should like. "I think our roster, if I were to use a word, is versatile," Kahn said. "We have a number of players who can play more than one position. and if Rick wants to go with a bigger look, he can go big. If he wants to go with a smaller look, he can go small. ... Our wing players needed to become more capable of making plays, being better ball handlers. the addition of all the wings we've added has aided us in that area. I think we're better defensively with what we've done."
Here are some other nuggets from the Kahn call:
--He said three other NBA teams contacted Kirilenko early in free agency, but weren't able to offer enough to lure the Russian back to America.
--Kahn acknowledged that Derrick Williams will have to step up his play to become a part of the mix this year. "I think it challenges Derrick to seize the moment," Kahn said. "I think that, otherwise, Derrick probably would have been in a situation where he would have felt the minutes would just have been handed to him. I think in this environment, Derrick should feel challenged, and I hope he accepts the challenge to seize what he wants as opposed to it just being handed to him. There are no limitations on Derrick's ability to play here, from a minutes standpoint."
--Kahn said he wasn't worried about the fact that Kirilenko was sometimes injury-prone late in his tenure with Utah. Indeed, Kahn said that having avoided last season's condensed NBA schedule was a blessing in disguise for Kirilenko.
--After taking care of Roy and Stiemsma next week, Kahn said the team wouldn't do anything for a couple of weeks. And he said much of the heavy off-season lifting might be done. But, then again, maybe not. Kahn said the Wolves were considering a move with another team that Kahn said would be "significant." But Kahn wouldn't say what the chances of that are. Any move now would require either a trade, or for the Wolves to create more salary cap space before signing a significant free agent.
--Guard Ricky Rubio, who has been in Spain for five weeks, will return to America in the next couple days, said Kahn. Rubio will go to Vail, Colorado, for a checkup on his surgically-repaired knee.
--Kahn said he might attend the final week of Olympic basketball.
That's about it. Have a good weekend.