The Brooklyn Nets have signed free agent forward Andrei Kirilenko, Nets General Manager Billy King announced today.
According to ESPN.com, “The Nets will use their taxpayer mini midlevel exception to bring Kirilenko aboard. It’s a two-year contract with a player option for the second year, a source said. Kirilenko will make $3.1 million in the first year of the deal. Kirilenko, 32, signed a two-year contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves worth $20 million last offseason, but opted out of the final year worth $10 million to become a free agent again this summer.”
“It gives me great pleasure to welcome Andrei to the Nets,” said Nets Principal Owner Mikhail Prokhorov. “He is a true talent with tremendous versatility. As a fellow countryman, I am especially proud that the best Russian player in the history of the NBA will be wearing a Nets jersey.”
“We are very pleased to add Andrei to our roster,” said King. “He is a proven NBA veteran with a unique skill set, and his addition provides our team with increased frontcourt flexibility.”
In an 11-year NBA career with the Utah Jazz and Minnesota Timberwolves, the 2004 NBA All-Star owns averages of 12.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.9 blocks and 1.4 steals. Last season, his lone with the Timberwolves, the Russian native averaged 12.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.0 blocks. The 6’9’’ Kirilenko is a three-time All-Defensive selection (First Team in 2005-06; Second Team in 2003-04 and 2004-05) and was selected Player of the Week twice during the 2003-04 campaign. Kirilenko led the NBA in blocks per game (3.3) in 2004-05 and in total blocks in 2005-06 (220), and currently ranks 24th in NBA history in blocks per game (1.9), fifth among active players. Voted First Team All-Rookie in 2001-02 as a 20-year-old, he went on to appear in the playoffs in six of his first nine seasons, averaging 10.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.9 blocks and 1.2 steals in 45 games (36 starts).
Selected by Utah with the 24th pick in the 1999 NBA Draft, Kirilenko did not join the Jazz until the 2001-02 season. Prior to coming to the NBA, he became the youngest player to appear in the Russian Superleague as a 17-year-old with Spartak St. Petersburg during the 1997-98 season. Kirilenko spent the next three years with CSKA Moscow, where he led CSKA to the Superleague Championship and was selected an All-Star in his first season before winning the Russian League MVP in 2000. Kirilenko decided to leave the NBA and play domestically in 2011-12, returning to CSKA and leading his team to the Euroleague Final while garnering Euroleague MVP, All-Euroleague First Team and Euroleague Defensive Player of the Year accolades.
Born in Izhevsk, Kirilenko has represented his country at the 2000, 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games, winning a bronze medal in 2012 in London and being honored as his country’s flag bearer in 2008 in Beijing. He has also been a member of five Russian EuroBasket entries, highlighted by his 2007 campaign that saw Russia win the gold medal and culminating with his selection as MVP of the tournament.
In Brooklyn, Kirilenko reunites with point guard Deron Williams. The two were teammates with the Jazz for five-and-a-half seasons in Utah between 2005-06 and 2010-11, before Williams was acquired midseason by the Nets. In 2006-07, the duo led the Jazz to a Western Conference Finals appearance.