Not often do the terms of a free-agent contract send the basketball world into a frenzy, but if what Peter Vecsey is reporting about Andrei Kirilenko and the Brooklyn Nets is true, that is exactly what will happen.
Vecsey dropped this announcement via Twitter on Thursday evening:
This just in: Nets have signed. Kirilenko for mini mid-level, 3.1M per
— Peter Vecsey (@PeterVecsey1) July 11, 2013
Initially, the reaction of everyone is “WHAT?!?!?” because Kirilenko signed a mini mid-level contract of $3.1 million per season is a violent underpayment, especially in the current (read: desperate) free agent market. Upon further thought, the deal makes some degree of sense for Kirilenko, as it has been long reported that he and Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov have a relationship, but even with that caveat, the deal seems pretty insane.
After the trade to acquire Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce from Boston, it seemed certain that Brooklyn would have to stay put as far as acquiring high-end talent. However, Kirilenko is still a tremendous player in the league, and would provide them depth that the Nets didn’t previously have. In 2012-2013, Kirilenko averaged 12.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.5 steals, and 1.0 blocks per game in 64 games with Minnesota, and although his defense has slipped a bit from his previous “All-World” levels, he is still a tremendous two-player at age 32.
In order to accept this type of deal, Kirilenko would almost surely have turned down significantly more money from other suitors. Money certainly isn’t everything, especially for a player with a documented history of “comfort” issues that saw him leave the NBA in 2011-2012, but it is startling to see a player of his accumen reportedly agree to a deal for $3.1 million per season.
Further details of the deal will be needed in order to confirm Vecsey’s report, but for now, we have to assume that Brooklyn just made one of the biggest coups of the 2013 Free Agency season.