Andrei Kirilenko's agent doesn't doubt that Russian pro team CSKA the reigning European champion from Moscow would snatch up the country's premier and highest-profile player in a heartbeat.
But, despite rumors about the Jazz forward's future that are being bandied about on the Internet and on local sports-talk radio, don't count on AK-47 shooting off to Russia anytime soon.
"There's no question that they would love to have him," agent Marc Fleisher said of CSKA. "But to my knowledge, they haven't made any efforts this summer at least through me to get him, so I don't take it (the rumor) very seriously."
A report surfaced this week on Russian Web site krepsinis.net, claiming CSKA wants to offer Kirilenko an NBA-like lucrative contract, similar to the rumor that surfaced recently about the team's hopes of enticing guard Ben Gordon to bolt from Chicago for Russia. It was even speculated that AK-47 might not have "renewed with the Utah Jazz yet" because of this possible offer. A roughly translated portion of the article later appeared on thehoop.blogspot.com, and spread from there.
One major flaw in the Kirilenko-to-CSKA rumor: The Russian Olympian still has three years and nearly $50 million remaining on his long-term Jazz contract. Meaning, of course, he hasn't renewed the deal because he can't. Nyet yet, at least. Kirilenko is obligated to Utah through the end of the 2010-11 season.
Fleisher isn't aware of any conversations between CSKA and Russia's favorite hoops son, but said it's possible the club might have approached him "off the record." Regardless, he insists it definitely "hasn't gone anywhere."
"I'm not aware that they did that and they certainly have not come to me," he said, "so I think it's a non-issue."
Even if the Jazz's versatile forward wanted to head to Europe, another major roadblock stands in the way of Kirilenko potentially returning to play pro ball in Russia for the next three seasons. The NBA and FIBA, basketball's international governing body, have a deal that doesn't allow players to ditch their deals to play across the ocean.
"As long as a player is under contract with an NBA team, he can't sign a contract to play in Europe (and vice-versa)," Fleisher said, adding that the rule doesn't prohibit contract buyouts.
Kirilenko has been traveling around Europe since the Beijing Olympics, so Fleisher hasn't spoken with him recently. But he said Kirilenko has a good attitude about the upcoming Jazz season and that concerns the forward had last summer have long been resolved.
"During the season, he expressed to me he was satisfied the way things were going," the agent said.After a rough 2006-07 campaign and some offseason grumbling, Kirilenko recorded a career-best shooting year last season while averaging 11.0 points.
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