Utah Jazz talked Kirilenko for McGrady trade

By Tim Buckley

Deseret News

Published: Saturday, July 4 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

The Jazz, it's been learned and confirmed, engaged in recent trade talk with the Houston Rockets about a possible deal that would have brought seven-time NBA All-Star swingman Tracy McGrady to Utah for small forward Andrei Kirilenko.

The Jazz, however, have no current desire to make the trade — for reasons including, but not necessarily limited to, McGrady's health situation and contract status.

McGrady, 30, underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in May of 2008 and microfracture surgery on the same problematic knee late last February. He also has a history of back problems, played just 35 games last season, may or may not be able to play more than that next season and is the subject of frequent trade rumors.

At $23.23 million in the final year of his existing contract, McGrady also will be the NBA's highest-paid player next season.

Kirilenko, 28 and a one-time All-Star small forward, is due $16.44 million in 2009-10 — meaning one or more other players would have to be included to make such a swap conform to NBA trade rules, which call for next season's salaries to match within 25 percent.

And unless the Jazz included enough additional salary in such a trade to trump McGrady's number, Utah — as its payroll stands now — would be taking on added luxury-tax burden.

But Kirilenko also is due about $17.8 million in 2010-11 — which means the Jazz, if they did somehow send enough salary to Houston to top McGrady's figure, could save about $18 million over the next two years by making such a deal.

The trade talk evidently was conducted quite quietly.

"I know nothing about it," said Kirilenko's agent, Marc Fleisher, who met with Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor earlier this week to discuss the contract situation of another his clients, starting center Mehmet Okur. "I haven't heard from anybody in the Jazz office that they're going to trade Andrei. . . . They've given me no indication of that."

E-MAIL: tbuckley@desnews.com

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