TORONTO - Andrei Kirilenko is "putting himself on thin ice," Jazz owner Larry Miller said Thursday, by allowing his production to ebb while complaining about not being involved in the team's offense.
"The best advice, I suppose, for him is to play the game the way he knows how to play it," Miller said during an interview on radio station 1280 AM. " . . . To me, Andrei could make the choice to play well, and I don't think he's done it the past eight to 10 games."
Miller said he was surprised by comments Kirilenko made following a meeting Tuesday with the Jazz's coaching staff, all but admitting he was having difficulty staying interested in the team's games when he wasn't getting to shoot.
"Some of the games, I don't feel like I'm on the floor," Kirilenko said. "I just go back and forth, back and forth, back and forth and I go to sleep."
The team's owner, who cited conversations about energy and hustle he had with Kirilenko while negotiating the Russian's six-year, $86 million contract, said he wasn't happy watching his highest-paid player on the floor lately.
"When he shoots off the 10-foot elbow or 12-foot baseline, I'm cringing right now. He's shooting it that poorly," Miller said. But hearing Kirilenko explain that he wants "two or three plays" called for him makes it worse.
"I would have to say he's putting himself on thin ice," Miller told the radio station. "The combination of not playing very well and shooting his mouth off - that's not a good combination."
He also suggested an unorthodox solution.
"I'd almost like to call his bluff. Say 'OK, automatically we're going to leave you out there, you're going to take 20 shots a night five games in a row. And then we'll see,' " Miller challenged Kirilenko. "That would resolve the issue. He's either going to make them or he's not."
Miller made it clear that he suspects how that would work out.
"What percentage of the time is he going to make the basket when he drives down the key? What percentage is he even going to have the ball in his hands?" Miller said. "It sounds bad, but . . . I would say three-quarters of the time, he loses the ball before he gets to the rim."
But Miller also defended the six-year veteran, emphasizing that Kirilenko remains one of the team's most valuable players. For one thing, the occasional meetings that Sloan has with Kirilenko "always seem like a positive," Miller said, and he believes the situation will resolve itself soon.
His impact on the floor is even greater, making the current slump even more noticeable, the owner added.
"He can have so much impact on a game without having plays called for him. He can take control of a game," Miller said. "Andrei should make four field goals and four to six free throws a night just by being around the basket, being active underneath."
But Kirilenko sounded encouraged after his nine-point, seven-rebound, four-steal and four-assist outing against the Pistons. "I feel I'm much more in game now," Kirilenko said of his post-meeting allotment of nine field-goal tries. "I hope it goes on for few games now."