Update: National attention towards a trade or buyout happening! (See below)
Andrei Kirilenko was a draft and stash by the Utah Jazz back in 1999 (picked #24). When he finally came over to Salt Lake City he was a dynamic two way player who hustled all day, made crazy passes, and blocked 1380 shots in a Jazz uniform. Andrei was more than just a shot blocker, as he currently ranks #7 in most games, #5 in minutes, #6 in points, #7 in rebounds, #5 in assists, #4 in steals, and #2 in blocks in franchise history. He became increasingly unreliable as injuries crept up on his athleticism and reckless style on the court. The player that he was during his 20s is not the same one that we have today in his 30s.
As a result it's not hard to see why his current squad, the Brooklyn Nets, seems to have no use for him. Head coach Lionel Hollins doesn't have him in the rotation anymore -- and while he is healthy right now he last played for the Nets four games ago, a 3:56 minute stint in a loss to the Golden State Warriors.
Dan Feldman of NBA Sports' ProBasketballTalk reports that:
Andrei Kirilenko has steadily fallen out of the Nets' rotation.
For a stretch, he was getting just a handful of minutes per game. But that has dropped to DNP-CDs in Brooklyn's last three contests.
Kirilenko seemed to be handling that as well as someone in his position could, which is to say he still wasn't pleased.
Tim Bontemps of the New York Post continues:
"It's tough, but there's nothing I can do," Kirilenko said. "I'm not the one making decisions, and it is what it is."
Kirilenko, who added that he likes coach Lionel Hollins and his system, came into this season hoping to get a bigger role after dealing with back spasms for large stretches of last season, missing more than 30 games and at times being towards the bottom of Jason Kidd's rotation, including being benched in playoff games.
But Kirilenko has struggled mightily in the minutes he has received early this season, and has scored just three points in the 35 minutes he's played across seven games. And now he doesn't appear to be anywhere near the major contributor he was expected to be after agreeing to opt in to the second year of his two-year deal this summer.
Kirilenko said Hollins has been open with him about his decision to leave him out of the rotation.
"I really appreciate it," Kirilenko said, "but it doesn't make things easier."
When asked if he was healthy, Kirilenko said: "I feel fine."
When asked what he thought he had to do in order to get back into Hollins' rotation, he admitted: "I have no idea."
Rod Boon, the Nets beat writer for Newsday had this to tweet:
#Nets say Andrei Kirilenko will not be with the team for their two-game trip due to personal reasons.— Rod Boone (@rodboone) November 21, 2014
Lionel Hollins was asked if Andrei Kirilenko will rejoin team after #Nets two-game trip is over. Hollins: "I don't know."— Rod Boone (@rodboone) November 21, 2014
So what did our sister site, Nets Daily, have to say? Reed Wallach breaks it down here:
Kirilenko has been struggling to stay on the floor this season, not because of health issues, but because of his poor play. The Russian forward who was a candidate to start for the team this season is averaging only five minutes per game in seven minutes of action. He isn't even averaging a point per game either.
Bojan Bogdanovic, Mirza Teletovic, Alan Anderson, and what seems to now be Markel Brown have passed Kirilenko on the depth chart and Kirilenko has been a healthy inactive over the past week.
But, well, Nets fans in the comments section seem to disagree with that statement. Furthermore, many put the blame here on Hollins. (I am getting some sort of Lionel really liked Apollo Creed vibe here...#spoilers) Or more reasonably, he may feel like the Nets have things on 'lock' at the wings/back up PF without him. Bojan Bogdanovic (all 11 games, 31.9 mpg) and Mirza Teletovic (all 11 games, 23.5 mpg) getting all that playing time dissuades me from thinking Hollins is anti-Euro. He just seems to be anti-AK.
It's been refreshing to see the outpouring of support FOR AK from the Nets fans, the various comments sections and @ replies to Nets reporters see to be almost universally pro-AK. The refrain is that while things appear unsalvageable with Hollins at the helm, that General Manager Billy King should move him.
You may remember Billy King as former GM of the Philadelphia 76ers back when he and Kevin O'Connor (then Utah Jazz GM) made a lot of trades. They remain very close, clasping hands and joking with full mirth when I last saw them together at the NBA Draft combine last spring.
N.B. King was the GM of Philly from 98 till 07. Here is a list of the UTA/PHI deals during that time period:
- June 24th, 1998 -- Nazr Mohammad traded for future 1st rounder (Quincy Lewis, 1999) (on draft night)
- June 7th, 2005 -- Future 2nd rounder (Alex Acker, 2005) for future 2nd rounder (Ante Tomic, 2008)
- June 28th, 2007 -- Herbert Hill for Kyrylo Fesenko (on draft night)
- December 29th, 2007 -- Gordan Giricek and future 1st rounder (Trevor Booker) for Kyle Korver
N.B. King was the GM of Brooklyn from 2010 onwards. Here is a list of the UTA/BKN deals during that time period:
- February 23rd, 2011: Deron Williams for Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, Cash, a future 1st rounder (Enes Kanter, 2011), a future 1st rounder (Gorgui Dieng, 2013)
- December 22nd, 2011: Mehmet Okur for a trade exception and a future 2nd rounder (2015)
That's six Utah deals that Billy King has made in his GM career. I wouldn't mind having Andrei Kirilenko return to the Utah Jazz. Kirilenko is making $3.326 million this year, in the final year of his contract. I'd straight up trade the rights to Ante Tomic and a few 2nd rounders for him; or just try to claim him off of waivers if he gets cut.
Obviously his use to the Jazz are partly for nostalgia purposes, but also as that veteran off the bench who has actually played in big games before (Olympic medal games, Western Conference Playoff games, etc). I think that if there was a guy who was going to make Gordon Hayward and Rodney Hood into solid wing defenders it could be Andrei coaching them in practice / film sessions. Last season he played 19.0 mpg, and I seriously doubt that there is 19.0 mpg to be found on this roster. But I am certain that Quin Snyder, who knows the Euro game under Ettore Messina, would be able to find a place for a high basketball IQ forward passer.
I'm not objective when it comes to AK-47. It is sad to see that one of the better relationships he's had with a coach was the troubled one with Jerry Sloan . . . his on court utility isn't as high as it used to be. But I would welcome him back if he found his way back home. Regardless, I wish him the best and hope that the 33 year old can find a place that will feel like he can contribute to their team. It's most likely not going to be Utah. If it's in the NBA I will still watch him, unless it's with the Lakers.
Obvious propaganda video is obvious.
Update: Via Steve Aschburner, of NBA.com who points to this Tim Bontemps story today
Sources said no buyout negotiations have taken place yet, but that it's possible the team could try to trade Kirilenko and his $3.3 million expiring contract. If such a trade were to materialize, it would likely be after Dec. 15, when all rookies and players signed to contracts this summer are eligible to be moved.
If a trade doesn't materialize, it seems inevitable that a buyout would be reached at some point.