Jerry Zgoda missed the entire Kevin Garnett era, but he's back covering the Timberwolves after working the beat for their first four seasons two decades ago. In between, he covered a bit of everything: Gopher men's and women's basketball and NCAA athletics, golf, outdoor recreation, sports media and a little Vikings and Twins.

Trade done, Kirilenko signed

Posted by: Kent Youngblood under Wolves news Updated: July 27, 2012 - 2:00 PM

In rapid-fire moves, the Wolves announced a trade sending Wes Johnson to Phoenix, then followed up by announcing the signing of forward Andrei Kirilenko.

The team did not provide contract specifics, but it is reported to be a two-year, $20 million deal. The second year of the deal has a player option. 

"Over his time in the NBA he has proven to be one of the best defensive players in the world," Wolves president of basketball operations David Kahn said. "His ability to play multiple positions and big-game experience will be wonderful assets to our team. he is coming off an MVP season in Europe, on what many believe was the best team in Europe, CSKA Moscow. We are excited to see him in a Timberwolves uniform and wish him well in the upcoming Olympics, where he will be the star player for the Russian national team."

Here is what Kirilenko said in the release: "I'm excited to be returning to the NBA with the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Wolves have one of the best coaches in the league in Rick Adelman and I feel my game fits in well with his style of play. I also like the talent that Minnesota has on the team with star players like Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio.

Kirilenko, 31, played 10 seasons in the NBA, all with Utah. In 681 career games he averaged 12.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.4 steals and 2 blocks per game. 

As for the trade, the team announced that ,  in a three-team trade, it had sent Wes Johnson and a future first-round draft pick to Phoenix in a trade that also involved New Orleans.

"We thank Wes for his two seasons in Minnesota and wish him the best in Phoenix," Kahn said in a release. "This trade frees up salary cap space for us as we pursue adding additional players to our roster."

The first-round draft pick, which is reported to be lottery-protected, is for 2013 and had been previously acquired by the Wolves.

The Wolves get two second-round draft choices from New Orleans -- a 2013 pick of the Brooklyn Nets and a 2016 pick that originally belonged to the Wolves. Both picks were acquired by the Hornets in a July 13 trade. the Wolves also get a second-round pick from Phoenix, a 2014 pick that originally belonged to the Los Angeles Lakers. 

Also in the trade? Phoenix sent center Robin Lopez and forward Hakim Warrick to New Orleans and the Hornets sent guard Jerome Dyson and Brad Miller's expiring contract to the Suns. 

Johnson spent two seasons with the Wolves, averaging 7.7 points and 2.9 rebounds in 144 games, including 127 starts. 

Here are some things Kirilenko said in an interview with Sports-Express.ru, in which he talked about his decision to return to the NBA. And here, thanks to a Google translation, are some of the things he had to say.

On making the decision: "Finally, the issue was settled and the (Russian Olympic) club can concentrate solely on the Olympics, without clogging your head."

On why he chose to return to the NBA: "(I) showed last season that I'm in good shape and ready to play at the highest level. Yes, in Moscow, I was comfortable. However the NBA -- it's the NBA. ... I had to go to America."

Frankly, sometimes things are lost in translation. When asked about Alexey Shved joining him in Minnesota, the translation had Kirilenko saying, "The prospect of once again become a mate (with Shved), added Vista in favor of the Minnesota."

We'll assume that's a good thing.

But Kirilenko also talked about the Wolves. He talked about the "incredible leap" Kevin Love made last season. "(He) turned out of a good player into a real superstar," he said. "Minnesota, in general, is a very interesting fusion. There are many Europeans who are talented young people."

And Kirilenko also thinks highly of Rick Adelman. He said the two talked a few times before Kirilenko made his decision. "He called me several times in person, telling what (he) sees my role on the team."

Kirilenko said he admired the way Adelman coaches. "Rick Adelman, I really liked the way he (coached), when he was in ) Sacramento in the 2000's, with (Chris) Webber, (Vlade) Divac, (Peja) Stoyakovic. The team knew how to score and pass and defend. A sort of all-out basketball."

 ELLINGTON SPEAKS

Former Wolves guard Wayne Ellington, traded by the Wolves for Dante Cunningham, talked to the Memphis Commerical Appeal about the move. He is, apparently, very happy. 

"It was a tough situation in Minnesota," he told the Commercial Appeal. "We were really a young team. We had a lot of people in the same position. Unfortunately, I didn't get the best opportunity that I would have liked to have in Minnesota. But I'm happy to have a fresh start in Memphis. I think I'll be a piece that can fit in well."

Ellington said he needed more playing time to become more consistent with his shot. "It's tough to find a rhythm when you're playing time is up and and down, if you play at all."

 

 

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