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Free-agency pursuit: Andrei Kirilenko another name to consider?

  • Blog Post by: Jerry Zgoda
  • July 20, 2012 - 4:10 PM

Here’s another name to think about in the Wolves’ free-agent pursuits beyond the usual suspects of Jordan Hill, Greg Stiemsma, Ronnie Brewer, Anthony Tolliver, etc.:

Andrei Kirilenko

It’s obvious by their chase of Nicolas Batum that Wolves coach Rick Adelman feels the need to upgrade the small-forward spot as much as the position all of Wolves Nation frets about, shooting guard.

Kirilenko would address so many of their needs for another veteran presence, a perimeter lock-down defender and a complementary scorer who at age 31 still has at least two or three high-level seasons in him, if he can stay healthy.

That, admittedly, has been an issue throughout his career.

It has been assumed he will either return to play for CSKA Moscow or for Russian owner Mikhail Prokorov’s Brooklyn Nets, but the Nets are tapped out on cap space and he hasn’t yet committed to return to Moscow while he listens to NBA offers.

He always could agree to play for the Nets for the veteran minimum salary, but the Wolves have more than $14 million to spend and could use a chunk of it on him.

And remember: David Kahn spent about 10 days in Europe this spring and no doubt scouted Shved with CSKA Moscow. In doing so, he also would have seen Kirilenko, who has been playing very well recently.

Kirilenko did a Q-and-A that was published in Utah’s Deseret News last December when he was deciding whether to stay in Moscow or return to an NBA team for an abrupt start to the lockout-ended season. Here’s what he said when asked about how he liked playing back in Russia after all his seasons in the NBA.

“Good, except I hate the bad snow. I like good snow, but we are having bad black snow right now. It is the bad, wet snow. The traffic is horrible, too, and sometimes the people are hard to get used to again. It is the culture here in Russia, that's why people are tough. Everyone in Utah is happy, even though sometimes it is not how they feel inside, they always try to smile and act happy.”

We’re happy here in Minnesota, right? And nice, too.

If Kahn wanted to put Pau Gasol next to Ricky Rubio, why not AK-47 next to Alexey Shved, Kirilenko’s CSKA Moscow and Russian national teammate whom the Wolves are about to sign.

With the Wolves still having more than $14 million to spend in free agency, you can get him, I guessing, for a bit less than that $17 million contract he once commanded with Utah or the $10 million salary he reportedly has been seeking.

The Wolves’ pursuit of Batum tells you Adelman isn’t comfortable relying on either Wes Johnson (duh!) or Derrick Williams as a starter at small forward.

So…

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