After spending a season playing for CSKA Moscow, Andrei Kirilenko returned to the NBA as a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves. After a season there left money on the table to join the Brooklyn Nets. With Russian billionaire owner (and family friend, as he was the guy who introduced him to his wife) and former Utah Jazz teammate Deron Williams, it seemed like a great chance for a new start in the NBA. Many eyebrows were raised when Kirilenko signed with them for very cheap, less than his market value for sure. Two Nets coaches, and a vastly diminished role later, AK-47 was traded to the hapless Philadelphia 76ers. And this is where things get very interesting.
Andrei's wife Masha has been suck in the NYC area with a difficult and complicated pregnancy. The Kirilenkos had two children, boys, years ago. And then they adopted an infant daughter from a Russian orphanage. I do not know if the adoption was out of the desire to help out an orphan, or if there was a desire for more children, but there was a reproductive issue that had cropped up. Today the former Jazzman has a new child, and this should free at least his name up for trade talks.
Kirilenko's people feel as thought the Nets traded him to the 76ers with the idea that they would waive him. Furthermore, Kirilenko had no plans on showing up in the first place because he was already getting excused from the Nets games and road trips to stay with his sick wife. Why would he leave her to play for the 76ers when she was in her third trimester? He wouldn't.
The Sixers, on the other hand, felt like AK was traded for with the purpose of either having him as a player, or as an asset later on. And that there were no plans on waiving him at all, according to the Sixers brass. Philly then suspended Andrei for failing to report. But, they don't have a good track record with getting players to play for them anyway, as Danny Granger proved last season after Indy traded him, and kind of forced them into buying out his contract. He then signed with the Los Angeles Clippers. This off-season he signed with the Miami Heat.
With the deadline approaching, whatever little is left of Andrei's $3.3 million salary isn't that hard to move. There was some speculation that Andrei would forfeit the remainder of his salary, but I don't know how likely that is. Furthermore, even if he is traded from Philly sometime between now and the February 19th deadline, or bought out, I don't know if he is going to be likely to want to leave his wife with FOUR kids while he gallivants on random road trips through Milwaukee and Minnesota after the All-Star break.
Long ago Andrei said that Salt Lake City was a great place to raise a family. And I know our wing rotation is currently worse than what you get at a second rate sports bar. Alec Burks is out for the season. Rodney Hood has no time table. And Joe Ingles just missed the last two games. I'd like to see Andrei back in a Jazz uniform, but I'd rather just see him spend more time on his family right now. And I think that's what he wants as well.
All that said, contending teams are trying to make moves now. The Charlotte Hornets just traded for Mo Williams (full post here), and the East really is still up for grabs as the Atlanta Hawks are not playoff tested in the least. An East team with a chance for a ring could give his people a call. With guys like Ray Allen still sitting out, but not retired, it seems like the smart move is to wait it out until March to figure out where you want to sign. It works sometimes.
For Kirilenko, wealthy beyond counting, right now he doesn't have to work. And he may be content to do just that, no matter that his name IS going to come up in talks now.