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

Houston 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
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
Chicago 6:00 PM
Cleveland
New Orleans 6:00 PM
Washington
Milwaukee 6:30 PM
New York
Philadelphia 6:30 PM
Brooklyn
Charlotte 6:30 PM
Atlanta
Sacramento 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Memphis 7:30 PM
Dallas
Tampa Bay 8:30 PM
Edmonton
Arkansas State 10/21/14 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Ottawa 6 FINAL
Hamilton 16
Montreal 20 FINAL
Toronto 12
Calgary 33 FINAL
Winnipeg 23
Edmonton 24 FINAL
Saskatchewan 19
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which local team are you currently most excited about?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close