SALT LAKE CITY — Kevin O'Connor won't admit it. He won't even directly talk about the subject other than a "No comment."
Even so, Andrei Kirilenko's playing days in Utah are done.
Fans have mixed opinions on the incredibly versatile but oft-injured forward, who spent the past 10 years with the Jazz.
But his friends from this franchise will miss the Russian. AK-47 is currently playing for CSKA Moscow and is reportedly being courted by Sacramento and New Jersey for much more than the Jazz are willing to pay (this time around).
Jazz center Mehmet Okur cherishes his seven-year relationship with Kirilenko, who was his best friend on the Jazz and an unselfish teammate.
"He was a good player," Okur said, "and also he was a great person off the floor. … When I (played) with him, I always felt like he's going to get my back no matter what."
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin was equally complimentary of Kirilenko.
"Andrei's a great, great guy first of all. He has a great family. We miss him," Corbin said. "He's done a lot of good things for this franchise.
"Unfortunately," the coach added, "it don't look like we have an opportunity to bring him back, but we really have appreciated all of the things that he's brought to this franchise, to this community because he's a great guy in the community also."13 comments on this story
The warm feelings are mutual with Kirilenko, according to his agent, Marc Fleisher.
"Andrei," he said, "will always treasure his time with the Jazz."