NBA: Timberwolves agree to terms with former Utah Jazz player Andrei Kirilenko
MINNEAPOLIS — With a flurry of activity that was widely reported but not yet confirmed by the team, the Timberwolves took part in a three-team trade that cleared salary-cap space and came to terms with veteran forward Andrei Kirilenko on a two-year deal.
Just another offseason in the NBA.
David Kahn, Wolves president of basketball operations, continues to rework his roster, ending the Wes Johnson era in Minnesota in the process. Finally — reportedly — the Wolves were able to pull off a big move not long after failing to pluck Nicolas Batum away from Portland.
News broke early Wednesday afternoon that the reported trade involving the Wolves, New Orleans and Phoenix was done. An Associated Press story out of New Orleans reported that the Wolves had sent Johnson and his $4.3 million salary — he the fourth overall pick in the 2010 draft — and a first-round draft pick to Phoenix. In return, said the report, the Wolves got guard Jerome Dyson, retiring center Brad Miller’s $5.1 million contract and two second-round draft picks from New Orleans.
Then, later Wednesday afternoon, Yahoo! Sports reported, citing league sources, that the Wolves were finalizing a two-year, $20 million contract with Kirilenko. This is the big move fans have been waiting for since free agency began. If it comes to fruition, it would indicate that much of the Wolves’ off-season heavy-lifting might be done. Kirilenko, 31, played 10 years in the NBA — all in Utah — before signing with CSKA Moscow last season.
Also Wednesday, the Wolves announced the signing of Russian guard Alexey Shved, a Kirilenko teammate last season.
In Kirilenko, the Wolves get a veteran who should provide an upgrade at the small-forward position, a position coach Rick Adelman badly wanted addressed.
On a teleconference with the media to announce the Shved signing, Kahn declined to comment on the reported trade. “I can’t,” he said. “Nothing has been consummated at all.” He also declined to speak about Kirilenko.
That said, the addition of Kirilenko means a major shift on the Wolves’ roster, while at the same time ending the career of another high Wolves draft pick.
The 6-foot-9 Kirilenko brings a well-rounded game to the Wolves, though he did have some injury issues in his final seasons in Utah. He is a strong defender, a good rebounder and an able play-maker. In 10 seasons with the Jazz, he averaged 12.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists. Playing for CSKA Moscow last season, Kirilenko averaged 12.3 points and 5.1 rebounds in Russian League play.
It has been a busy month for the Wolves, who acquired Chase Budinger in a trade with Houston, agreed to terms with center Greg Stiemsma and signed Shved. But it was the process of shedding salaries to create cap space that allowed the team to pursue Kirilenko, who had announced his intention to return to the NBA. Both he and Shved are playing for the Russian Olympic team in London.
On Tuesday, Kirilenko told the Russian news agency R-Sport that he would return to the NBA this fall and that he would decide on a team “in a day or two.”
It appears that team will be the Wolves.
©2012 Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
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