New Wolf Kirilenko finds poetry in motion offense

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 9, 2012 - 6:52 AM
hide

Andrei Kirilenko, back in the NBA after a year in Russia, will bring needed versatility to the Wolves.

Photo: Renee Jones Schneider, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

New Timberwolves forward Andrei Kirilenko is back in the NBA after a season away and apparently feeling like he is back home, even though he spent his first decade in the league in Utah, not Minnesota.

"I really feel like I belong here," he said.

Kirilenko once felt like that with the Jazz, after he parlayed an All-Star Game appearance at age 23 into an $86 million contract that was supposed to make him the franchise's new face after John Stockton and Karl Malone retired.

But that was before Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams blossomed in the team's offense, before Kirilenko played out the final years of that six-year deal with a whopping salary but a diminished role.

Now, after a season playing back home in Russia, he says he knows just where he fits at age 31 on a team that's all Kevin Love's.

He is the savvy veteran signed to a two-year, $20 million contract who gives the Wolves, even at age 31, perhaps their most versatile defender and has played the game all his life just the way Rick Adelman has lived to coach it, with motion and selflessness.

Kirilenko always admired Adelman's Sacramento teams from a decade ago, particularly after the Jazz played the Kings "like 20 times" in preseason, regular season and consecutive playoff series in 2002 and 2003.

"Those teams were known by very good movement of the ball and a lot of, a lot of motion," Kirilenko said. "And I've always been a guy who likes the energetic style of the game: Running, moving, pass, cut and I think this team is going to be very, very good fit for me. It's very, very good basketball for me."

Adelman installed relatively little of his famed "corner" offense last season, partly because of an abbreviated December training camp caused by a labor lockout, partly because he had personnel who stared rather blankly at him when he philosophized about the merits of a backdoor cut.

In Kirilenko, he has a proven, willing practitioner of such things who also -- at 6-9 and springy -- can play both forward spots.

"He knows exactly who he is," Adelman said. "He has been doing this so long. Just watching him, I can't tell you how many times he has back-cut our guys and they still can't tell what he is going to do the next time and they still haven't figured it out. But he's so quick and he's smart and he's long and he just plays. He doesn't take plays off."

Kirilenko will play his first game in a Timberwolves uniform in Wednesday's preseason opener, a meeting with Indiana at North Dakota's Fargodome in which he, Love and Brandon Roy are all expected to play measured minutes while Adelman will give more playing time and opportunity to less-proven players such as Derrick Williams, Alexey Shved and Chase Budinger.

Fellow Wolves newcomer Shved plays with Kirilenko on the Russian national team that won Olympic bronze last summer in London. They were teammates on CSKA Moscow last winter. And Shved has admired Kirilenko since Shved was a kid, and he has the photo of him holding a signed No. 47 jersey when was 11 or 12 to prove it.

"For sure, he's very talented player, best Russian player," Shved said. "He play here [in the NBA] 10 years. He knows the style. He knows when he needs to go cut, when he needs to stop and take the three-point shot. He's big for a [small forward]. He's going to play [power forward, small forward and shooting guard]. He's important for the team, I think."

That's why the Wolves offered that big salary after they failed to land Portland's Nicolas Batum with a big free-agent offer more than double than what they paid Kirilenko.

Kirilenko agreed foremost for 20 million reasons. But it didn't hurt that the Wolves flattered him with their overtures and also offered the chance to play for a promising young team in Adelman's motion offense. Kirilenko's sons can play hockey in Minnesota, too.

"It feels right," Kirilenko said. "I'm not having any problems getting along with the guys, everybody is being so helpful. Kevin's doing a great job as the face of this team, being friendly but at the same time showing good example for everybody. It's the right place for me."

Note

• Adelman said he expects to play Shved a lot in the preseason, and probably particularly at point guard on Wednesday if Luke Ridnour's back spasms aren't better. Ridnour's back bothered him during Saturday's practice and he didn't participate in the contact part of Monday's workout at Target Center.

  • WOLVES

    Exhibition opener: 7 p.m. Wednesday vs. Indiana • Fargodome

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Yankees - LP: M. Pineda 0 FINAL
Toronto - WP: D. Hutchison 2
Detroit - LP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: C. Sale 6
Chicago Cubs - WP: F. Doubront 5 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: J. Masterson 1
Cincinnati - LP: A. Simon 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: V. Worley 3
Minnesota - LP: J. Burton 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: A. Miller 3
Philadelphia - WP: J. Williams 7 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: B. Colon 2
Miami - WP: J. Cosart 4 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: A. Harang 0
Boston - LP: A. Webster 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: J. Odorizzi 7
Cleveland - WP: J. Tomlin 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: S. Downs 2
Detroit - WP: K. Ryan 8 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: C. Bassitt 4
Texas - LP: P. Klein 0 FINAL
Houston - WP: S. Feldman 2
Colorado - WP: T. Matzek 2 FINAL
Arizona - LP: V. Nuno 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wada 2 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: M. Gonzales 13
Los Angeles - LP: J. Wright 1 FINAL
San Diego - WP: T. Stauffer 2
Milwaukee - LP: M. Fiers 1 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: J. Peavy 3
Oakland - LP: J. Samardzija 0 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: Y. Herrera 2
Washington - WP: S. Strasburg 3 FINAL
Seattle - LP: R. Elias 1
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
BYU 35 FINAL
Connecticut 10
(6) Jacksonville St 7 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 45
Bowling Green 31 FINAL
Western Ky 59
TX-San Antonio 27 FINAL
Houston 7
Colorado State 31 FINAL
Colorado 17
UNLV 13 FINAL
Arizona 58
Penn State 26 FINAL
UCF 24
Troy 10 FINAL
UAB 48
(7) UCLA 28 FINAL
Virginia 20
Western Mich 34 FINAL
Purdue 43
(5) Ohio State 34 FINAL
Navy 17
Appalachian St 14 FINAL
Michigan 52
Ga Southern 23 FINAL
NC State 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Massachusetts 7
West Virginia 23 FINAL
(2) Alabama 33
Rice 17 FINAL
(17) Notre Dame 48
(10) South Dakota St 18 FINAL
(24) Missouri 38
Fla Atlantic 7 FINAL
(22) Nebraska 55
California 31 FINAL
Northwestern 24
Marshall 42 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 27
UC Davis 0 FINAL
(11) Stanford 45
Arkansas 21 FINAL
(6) Auburn 45
(16) Clemson 21 FINAL
(12) Georgia 45
Liberty 29 FINAL
(23) North Carolina 56
Ohio U 17 FINAL
Kent State 14
Louisiana Tech 16 FINAL
(4) Oklahoma 48
Stephen F Austin 16 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 55
Fresno State 13 FINAL
(15) USC 52
Southern Miss 0 FINAL
Miss State 49
Texas-El Paso 31 FINAL
New Mexico 24
North Texas 7 FINAL
Texas 38
(1) Florida State 37 FINAL
Oklahoma State 31
(14) Wisconsin 24 FINAL
(13) LSU 28
Idaho 0 Postponed
Florida 0
South Dakota 13 FINAL
(3) Oregon 62
(25) Washington 17 FINAL
Hawaii 16
Utah State 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(8) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(16) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(1) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(17) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Colorado 0 FINAL
Seattle 1
New England 3 FINAL
Toronto FC 0
Columbus 0 FINAL
Montreal 2
FC Dallas 0 FINAL
Chicago 1
Real Salt Lake 1 FINAL
San Jose 1
Portland 3 FINAL
Vancouver FC 0
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Chicago 70 FINAL
Indiana 77

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How many fantasy football teams do you draft?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close