Andrei Kirilenko has finally decided on a team and he's signed a deal with his former club CSKA Moscow. A statement from AK,
I am glad to be back to the team where I spent the years of adolescence. It's a pleasure to have a chance to play for Russian fans, my friends, relatives. CSKA has a very strong team, great coach, excellent players. It's great when the highest goals are ahead of you. It's especially interesting to play under the load of responsibility. I am sure that we are able to solve any task together. I'd like to mention also that all the money earned in Russia I will send to Kirilenko's Kids charity foundation. The foundation will help the children hospitals and charity-schools, sport schools, sport veterans and the basketball players who became the disabled persons.
The biggest reason why AK hadn't signed already is that neither of the Russian clubs he wanted to play for was willing to give him an NBA out. It looks like he got that though and he'll be able to terminate his contract a month after the lockout ends. If that's a month after the two sides come to an agreement, then that about how long it will take to get the new CBA finalized, have a free-agency signing period, and have a mini training camp.
Andrei shouldn't be affected much by that as he will have already been playing and be in shape for the season starts. Neither the CSKA President or coach were excited about having AK potentially leave in a month or so, but they changed their mind. The club's president, Andrei Vatutin, had this to say,
When the NBA lockout started we considered it incorrect to sign someone with a risk to leave. But after the second thought we decided to make an exception in Andrei's case. He is a special player for CSKA and Russian basketball. First, he already played for our team. Second, the country's best player should play for the country's best club - we agreed on that with the management of club's owners, Norilsky Nickel. It is also important that Andrei expressed his desire to play for CSKA himself and during all the negotiation process he confirmed several times his interest in contract with our club. This past Eurobasket proved that Kirilenko keeps his good shape, understanding of European basketball and, what is important, popularity. I am sure that he will attract the fans to the stands not only in Moscow but all over Russia.
We understand perfectly all the risks of his possible departure but we knowingly take them. In my opinion there are no minuses in inviting Andrei. Even if he leaves the team in a month or two - depending on his desire - Kirilenko will play several games, and his participation will add to the interest toward our team. I am sure that most of the fans as well as me are anxious to see Kirilenko in CSKA uniform. If the lockout finishes, and Andrei decides not to chase NBA contract, our perspectives become even better.
Good luck to AK. Now, where can I watch these games online?