Caught up with Andrei Kirilenko at this morning’s shootaround in Oklahoma City on a couple notable topics:
* The trade deadline passed and Kirilenko is still here – as it everybody else – but that doesn’t mean he’ll be here next season. He has an out-option is his contract this summer and said this morning that he’s keeping all his options open.
* He has retired from the Russian national team so he can spend more times in the summer with his family.
As for his future with the Wolves…
That two-year, $20 million contract he signed with the Wolves last summer has a player’s option next season.
Of course, that would mean walking away from $10 million guaranteed in a summer when the NBA is heading into Year 3 of a tightening luxury-tax situation, but…
“I’m going to wait until the offseason, right now there’s no point to make any decision,” he said. “Wait until summer, analyze the season, and see what you want to do next.
“When I signed the contract with agent, we wanted to have all kinds of options,” he said. “I didn’t know what I was stepping into when I start the season. I heard a lot of good stuff, but you’re always a little bit worried how it’s going to go. So far, it’s going great. I like Rick’s system. We have a lot of injuries. The result is a little bit not what you expect, but we’re working on it.
“So far, I like everything here except the results. We need to try to fix it. In the summertime, I will sit with my agent, my family and look at it.”
And on stepping away from the Russian national team after leading it to an Olympic bronze medal last summer in London…
“It’s not connected to playing time, I’m not tired, I’m not tired of playing for the national team,” he said. “I want to be a better dad. I want to be with my family a little more. I think I already give a lot, play 12 years on the national team. There is time.”
He said he has thought about this decision for the last two, three years but got serious about making it after the Olympics.
“I was thinking in summertime I don’t have enough time with my kids,” he said. “My wife and kids, I want to be around them. I don’t want to be dad who’s spending two hours and then you don’t see your kids. It’s a hard decision.
“It’s kind of a dilemma: Going around the globe, playing basketball, have fun or spend your time with your kids and have fun and see how they’re growing. You want to be around them at this kind of age when they’re growing, they start playing hockey, start playing basketball. You want to see the improvement, not only in sports but the person.
It’s a tough decision but sooner or later, it’s going to happen. We had the generation of (Sergei) Belov, (Arvydas) Sabonis, then the next generation and now the next generation.”
The Kirilenko generation is over for Russian basketball.
And now the next?
The Alexey Shved generation?
“Yes, there you go, the Shved generation,” he said.
Kirilenko said he has an open invitation from the Russian basketball federation president to return if he ever so chooses to do so.
“He asked me, `Wait a second, take this year, look how it’s going to go, if you like it, you stay out, but if you feel like you’re not ready, you still want to be with national team, we welcome you,’ “ Kirilenko said. “So far, I feel like I want to be done, but it’s always good to have that open invitation.”