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Andrei Kirilenko decided he’d rather pull down rebounds for the Nets for $3 million a year than do the same for the Wolves at $10 million, raising suspicions about an under-the-table deal with the Nets’ Russian owner.

Associated Press file,

Rand: Kirilenko explains his motives, sort of

  • August 2, 2013 - 6:01 AM

Former Wolves forward Andrei Kirilenko did a conference call with Brooklyn Nets writers Thursday and attempted to explain how he opted out of a contract that would have paid him $10.2 million this year with the Wolves only to take a $3.1 million deal with the Nets.

The call lasted about 20 minutes, according to the New York Daily News, and it covered more than just that subject. If we left more than $7 million on the table, we imagine it would take longer to explain. But here was AK47, again per the Daily News:

“I opted out not because I wanted to sign with the Nets. At that time, I wanted to be in Minnesota for a long time. But there was a change in Minnesota. I respect Flip Saunders’ decision, but he decided not to sign me for a long time. I can’t do anything about that.”

When reached Thursday — while en route to Wisconsin Dells — new Wolves President Flip Saunders offered a “no comment” to the Star Tribune’s Kent Youngblood when asked about Kirilenko’s words.

Still, it has been reported that the Wolves offered Kirilenko a multiyear contract at a per-year rate that far exceeded what he is making in Brooklyn. But when asked if he has any regrets, Kirilenko said no.

“I understand the money is not that great, it’s not what I could have made,” he said. “I’m not sure if 10 years ago I would have taken this. But right now, it’s really the best option possible — to take a legit chance to win the trophy.”

Ah, yes. Reading between the lines, we come up with this: Old boss David Kahn was negotiating one thing with Kirilenko, but Saunders felt differently. Flip liked Andrei enough to make him an offer, but not one he couldn’t refuse. So he left money on the table and shifted into wanting to win mode and the Wolves moved on to Corey Brewer, the sequel.

Either that, or Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is secretly paying Kirilenko millions on the side. Thankfully, the good people in the New York/New Jersey media asked him about that conspiracy theory as well.

“Those type of rumors I can’t control,” Kirilenko said. “And I guess it comes from the history because of the Russian KGB. It makes it a little funny. What can I do?”

Make less money and hope 2014 is better, we suppose.

MICHAEL RAND

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