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 0 Bottom 1st Inning
Toronto 0
Detroit 3 Bottom 1st Inning
Chicago WSox 0
Chicago Cubs - F. Doubront 1:15 PM
St. Louis - J. Masterson
Cincinnati - A. Simon 3:05 PM
Pittsburgh - V. Worley
Minnesota - K. Gibson 6:05 PM
Baltimore - C. Tillman
Philadelphia - J. Williams 6:10 PM
NY Mets - B. Colon
Miami - J. Cosart 6:10 PM
Atlanta - A. Harang
Boston - A. Webster 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - J. Odorizzi
Cleveland - T. Bauer 6:10 PM
Kansas City - J. Shields
Detroit - K. Ryan 6:10 PM
Chicago WSox - C. Bassitt
Texas - R. Ross Jr. 6:10 PM
Houston - S. Feldman
Colorado - T. Matzek 7:10 PM
Arizona - V. Nuno
Chicago Cubs - T. Wada 7:15 PM
St. Louis - M. Gonzales
Los Angeles - Z. Greinke 7:40 PM
San Diego - I. Kennedy
Milwaukee - M. Fiers 8:05 PM
San Francisco - J. Peavy
Oakland - J. Samardzija 8:05 PM
LA Angels - C. Rasmus
Washington - S. Strasburg 8:10 PM
Seattle - R. Elias
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
(21) Texas A&M 52 FINAL
(9) So Carolina 28
Wake Forest 10 FINAL
ULM 17
Boise State 13 FINAL
(18) Ole Miss 35
Tulane 31 FINAL
Tulsa 38
Rutgers 41 FINAL
Washington St 38
Weber State 14 FINAL
(19) Arizona State 45
Temple 37 FINAL
Vanderbilt 7
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 7 2nd Qtr 3:07
UAB 24
(7) UCLA 14 2nd Qtr 1:40
Virginia 3
Western Mich 14 2nd Qtr 6:35
Purdue 13
(5) Ohio State 6 2nd Qtr 2:04
Navy 7
Appalachian St 0 2nd Qtr 2:17
Michigan 21
Ga Southern 10 2nd Qtr 8:35
NC State 3
Boston College 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
West Virginia 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Marshall 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
UC Davis 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 6:00 PM
Florida
Stephen F Austin 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 7:00 PM
Texas
(1) Florida State 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 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
Colorado 3:00 PM
Seattle
New England 4:00 PM
Toronto FC
Columbus 6:30 PM
Montreal
FC Dallas 7:30 PM
Chicago
Real Salt Lake 9:30 PM
San Jose
Portland 9:30 PM
Vancouver FC
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Winnipeg
Chicago 6:00 PM
Indiana
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: How many games will the Timberwolves win this season?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close