Zgoda's NBA Insider: Kirilenko lightens load

  • Updated: February 23, 2013 - 8:49 PM

A fixture for the Russian national team for over a decade, the Wolves veteran wants more family time.

hide

Andrei Kirilenko

Photo: Jim Mone, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Timberwolves forward Andrei Kirilenko turned 32 last week, an occasion he celebrated with a trip to Las Vegas over All-Star Weekend before he finalized a decision that confirmed time indeed is moving on.

Kirilenko told the Russian basketball federation that, barring a change of heart, his international playing days are done.

"It is time," he said.

It's time for him to devote his summers to watching his three children grow up.

It's time for what he calls the "next generation" of Russian basketball to take over, one that could be led by Wolves teammate Alexey Shved.

"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."

He played in his first Olympics in Sydney in 2000 and has been the face of Russian basketball ever since then, representing it in European, World and Olympic championships -- and accompanying qualifying events -- nearly every summer since then.

"It's kind of a dilemma: Going around the globe, playing basketball, have fun," he said, "or spend time with your kids and have fun and see how they're growing."

His children -- two boys and a girl, ages 3 to 11 -- won out.

"I was thinking in summer I don't have enough time with my kids," Kirilenko 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.

"You want to be around them at this kind of age when they're growing, when they start playing hockey, start playing basketball. You want to see the improvement, not only in sports but in them, the person."

Kirilenko said he has contemplated this decision for the past two or three years, but concluded it was time after he led Russia to a bronze medal at the London Olympics last summer.

This summer would have brought the European championships.

"If they played only a week, I'd be there," said Kirilenko, who can opt out of the remaining year of his two-year, $20 million NBA contract this summer. "But to be professional, you have to have month, two months before tournaments to get the preparation. That's what's killing. I will do my best to help national team any way I can, but I can't give so much time every summer.

"I want to be with my family a little more. I think I already gave a lot, playing 12 years on the national team."

Kirkilenko said the Russian federation president has extended him an open invitation to return if he changes his mind. He says he considers his decision a retirement, but admits he doesn't know how he'll feel about it two or three years from now.

He will be 35 when the next Olympics roll around, in Brazil in 2016.

"It's always good to know you can come back if your emotions change," he said.

Kirilenko said it's time for that next generation now. Russian basketball had Sergi Belov in the 1970s, Arvydas Sabonis in the 1980s and '90s, and now it is time for others, including Shved.

"I think so," Shved said. "Everybody want A.K. to stay on national team, but he played all the time for Russia. He gave everything for us. He wants to stop and stay with his family. That's his choice, and that's really good because he gave us everything."

SHORT TAKES

Win one -- or a bunch -- for Buss

Kobe Bryant ended his eulogy at Thursday's private ceremony that remembered Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss by issuing a challenge to all his teammates during a season in which they are searching for something to save it.

"I encourage all of you to look around the room," he said during a quirky memorial service in which Lakers greats Jerry West, Shaquille O'Neal and Phil Jackson all spoke at the Nokia Theatre across from Staples Center. "Look at the greatness of one man's vision, look at the players that are here, coaches that are here: We have one thing in common, we all believe in Dr. Jerry Buss. We are playing for something bigger than ourselves, bigger than a single season, playing for the memory of a great man, Dr. Jerry Buss."

Just wait until the draft combine

Houston's separate trades with Sacramento and Phoenix -- two of the few made before Thursday's league deadline -- brought the Rockets a top-five lottery talent in forward Thomas Robinson and shed salary to provide more cap space they can use to make a run at perhaps Dwight Howard or Josh Smith this summer.

Rockets coach Kevin McHale isn't impressed, not yet at least.

"I've never seen Cap Room score a basket yet," he told reporters. "I've seen old Cap and his last name is Room. I've yet to see him put a hoop in, haven't seen him block a shot, haven't seen him get a rebound yet. But when Cap Room starts putting up numbers, we should be in great shape."

Looking to team for comfort

San Antonio's Stephen Jackson returned to the team Thursday after taking a three-game leave after his wife, Renata, lost their first child she had been carrying for 6 1/2 months.

"I'm as good as I can be," he told the San Antonio Express-News before Thursday's game in Los Angeles against the Clippers. "I'm happy to be back with the team. I need to be back with the team, just for my own sanity. Basketball and being around these guys helps me a lot, so it's definitely something I needed."

WOLVES WEEK AHEAD

Sunday: 2:30 p.m. vs. Golden State (FSN)

Tuesday: 8 p.m. at Phoenix (FSN Plus)

Thursday: 9:30 p.m. at L.A. Lakers (TNT)

Saturday: 9 p.m. at Portland (Ch. 29)

Player to watch:

Steph Curry, Golden State

Sorry to remind you again, Wolves fans, but ... just think of your team with this guy AND Ricky Rubio on the floor together.

VOICES

« HIS ARM LOOKS LIKE MY HEAD. »

         

Wolves guard Ricky Rubio on hulking teammate Nikola Pekovic

  • related content

  • Jerry Zgoda's NBA short takes

    Saturday February 23, 2013

    Kobe Bryant ended his eulogy at Thursday's private ceremony that remembered Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss by issuing a challenge to all his teammates during a season in which...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Kansas City - WP: J. Guthrie 3 FINAL
San Francisco - LP: T. Hudson 2
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
New Orleans 10/30/14 7:25 PM
Carolina
Dallas 117 FINAL
Orlando 92
New York 80 FINAL
Toronto 83
San Antonio 87 FINAL
Houston 96
Miami 104 FINAL
Memphis 98
Minnesota 113 FINAL
Chicago 112
Phoenix 105 FINAL
Utah 100
Sacramento 93 FINAL
LA Lakers 92
Denver 112 FINAL
Golden State 119
Portland 99 FINAL
LA Clippers 89
Dallas 3 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Tampa Bay 4 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Vancouver 3 FINAL
Colorado 7
Carolina 3 FINAL
Edmonton 6
Columbus 1 FINAL
Anaheim 4
Connecticut 21 FINAL
(18) East Carolina 31
Miami-Florida 30 FINAL
Virginia Tech 6
So Florida 17 FINAL
Cincinnati 34
Troy 13 FINAL
South Alabama 27
BYU 30 FINAL
Boise State 55
(6) Oregon 59 FINAL
California 41
North Texas 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10:59 PM
Hawaii
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Memphis
Purdue 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
(17) Oklahoma 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa State
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(22) West Virginia
Texas 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Texas Tech
Northwestern 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa
Maryland 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Penn State
Houston 1 FINAL
Chicago 2
Montreal 23 FINAL
Ottawa 17
Saskatchewan 27 FINAL
Calgary 40
Hamilton 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who wins and loses in football this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

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

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close