Timberwolves sign Andrei Kirilenko

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced the team has signed free-agent forward Andrei Kirilenko. We’ll post contract details on this page later today.

“We are pleased that Andrei has decided to resume his NBA career with the Minnesota Timberwolves,” said David Kahn, Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations. “Over his time in the NBA he has proven to be one of the best defensive players in the world.  His ability to play multiple positions and big-game experience will be wonderful assets to our team. He is coming off an MVP season in Europe, on what many believe was the best team in Europe, CSKA Moscow.  We are excited to see him in a Timberwolves uniform and wish him well in the upcoming Olympics, where he will be the star player for the Russian National Team.”

“I’m excited to be returning to the NBA with the Minnesota Timberwolves,” Kirilenko said. “The Wolves have one of the best coaches in the league in Rick Adelman and I feel my game fits in well with his style of play. I also like the talent that Minnesota has on the team with star players like Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio.”

Kirilenko, 31, has spent parts of 10 seasons in the NBA, all with the Utah Jazz. In 681 career games (478 starts) the St. Petersburg, Russia, native holds averages of 12.4 points (.470 FG, .312 3FG, .763 FT), 5.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.4 steals and 2.0 blocks in 30.8 minutes per game. In 45 career playoff games (36 starts), the 6-9 forward owns averages of 10.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.9 blocks per game. Most recently Kirilenko averaged 11.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.2 blocks in 31.2 minutes per game for Utah during the 2010-11 season. The Jazz selected Kirilenko with the 24th overall pick of the 1999 NBA Draft.

Kirilenko posted perhaps his best season in 2003-04 when he averaged 16.5 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.9 steals - all career high figures - and 2.8 blocks per game en route to being named a 2004 All-Star reserve. Among his best games that season were two 5X5 lines (recording five or more points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks in same contest), when he posted 19 points, five rebounds, seven assists, eight steals and five blocks at Houston on Dec. 3 and 10 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, six steals and five blocks vs. New York on Dec. 10. In 2005-06 he became just fourth player in NBA history, and first since 1993-94, to average 15+ points, 8+ rebounds, 4+ assists and 3+ blocks in single season (Abdul-Jabbar six times, Bob Lanier – 1973-74, David Robinson – 1993-94). Included in that season was his third career 5X5 game, a 14-point, eight-rebound, nine-assist, seven-block and six-steal performance vs. the L.A. Lakers on Jan. 3. He became only the second player in NBA history with 6+ in each category (A. Olajuwon, March 10, 1987 - Houston vs. Seattle).

Regarded as one of the best defensive players during his 10 years in the NBA, Kirilenko has totaled 1,380 blocks and 960 steals over his NBA career. A three-time NBA All-Defensive Team selection (1st - 2005-06; 2nd - 2003-04, 2004-05), Kirilenko led the NBA in blocked shots per game over the 2004-05 season (3.32 bpg - a career high) and total blocks (220) in 2005-06. He has recorded 62 games of 5+ blocks and 14 games of 5+ steals over his career (5+ blocks and steals in the same game three times). He blocked a career-high 10 shots on March 25, 2006 vs. Sacramento and swiped a career-high eight steals Dec. 3, 2003 at Houston.

Kirilenko spent the 2011-12 season in Russia playing for CSKA Moscow, where he teamed up with current Timberwolves guard Alexey Shved. In 17 Euroleague games, Kirilenko averaged 14.1 points on .598 shooting (.417 from three), to go along with 7.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.9 blocks. He was named 2012 Euroleague MVP and 2012 Euroleague Best Defender for his efforts. Before starting his NBA career he played five seasons professionally in Russia, beginning his basketball career with Spartak St. Petersburg (Russia) in 1996-97 at the age of 15 (the youngest ever in the Russian League). Kirilenko has also starred on the international stage for the Russian National Team, which he has played on since the age of 19. Most recently he competed at the 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament, averaging 16.2 points (.512), 8.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 3.25 steals per game in leading the Russian National Team to a 2012 Olympic berth. The 2012 London Olympics will be his third (2000, 2008) such competition.