The Minnesota Timberwolves were set to pay Andrei Kirilenko about $10 million dollars this season, assuming he opted into his player option. The T’Wolves were okay with that and welcomed him back with open arms. Hell, when presented with sign-and-trade scenarios, they opted to decline them as they preferred to keep AK-47 in Minneapolis.
Despite Minnesota’s exuberance to bring him back, Kirilenko shockingly opted out of his contract and decided to sign with the Brooklyn Nets, owned by fellow Russian Mikhail Prokhorov. Now, there’s nothing really wrong with that until you consider that Kirilenko signed for $3.1 million with a player option in 2014-15 for an additional $3.1 million. This is the same guy who left the NBA to return to Russia because the money wasn’t right.
Conspiracy? Fellow NBA owners seemingly thought so as they have asked the NBA to investigate the deal, but Kirlienko thinks they need to get over it:
“I opted out not because I wanted to sign with the Nets. At that time, I wanted to be in Minnesota for a long time. But there was a change in Minnesota. I respect Flip Saunders decision, but he decided not to sign me for a long time. I can’t do anything about that…
“I can’t do anything with what people think. I’m coming from the facts. I can’t change it. I can’t control it. …Those type of rumors I can’t control. And I guess it comes from the history because of the Russian KGB. It makes it a little funny. What can I do?”