Four months after he turned down a $10 million salary with the Timberwolves and signed with Brooklyn for a portion of that, Andrei Kirilenko returns Friday to Target Center where he played the past season.
He won’t play against the Wolves because of back spasms, the same injury that bothered him parts of 2012-13 season and has caused him to miss seven of the Nets’ first 11 games this season.
“I’m unhappy that I can’t play at all, not necessarily [against] Minnesota,” Kirilenko told Nets beat reporters after practice Thursday in Charlotte. “I had a great time in Minnesota last year, … but a lot of injuries just killed us.”
Kirilenko declined a $10 million option year with the Wolves for this season, apparently deciding he could get a new multiyear deal at a similar salary. When no such offers materialized, he signed a two-year contract with Brooklyn that pays him $3.2 million this season.
After NBA owners and executives questioned whether an under-the-table deal existed between Kirilenko and Russian billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov, the NBA investigated but found no wrongdoing.
“We play by rule and NBA confirm it,” Prokhorov told the team’s YES television network recently, “so we can sleep safely all night now.”
The Wolves used that $10 million basically to sign free agents Kevin Martin and Corey Brewer.
“We miss the things Andrei did: He always guarded their best perimeter player, he’s a very good passer,” Wolves coach Rick Adelman said.
“But those two guys have made a huge difference. We needed perimeter help. Corey’s energy and the way he plays has really helped. And, of course, Kevin Martin, I knew what we were getting there. Adding those two guys is a pretty good addition for us.”