Andrei Kirilenko re-signs with CSKA Moscow (updated)
…and it’s a 3-year contract with an NBA out. Is this the rarity that’s known as having your cake and eating it too?
CSKA was AK’s team before the Jazz, and one of only three teams AK’s played for in his career. He’s made it known this summer that if he signs in Russia, CSKA and the team he started his career with (at the age of 15), Spartak St. Petersburg, were the only teams he wanted to play for. AK’s also said that he wanted to play in Russia so that his friends and family would have a chance to see him play, and that his entire lockout salary will be going to the Kirilenko Kids Foundation.
The press conference got off to a hilarious start with the president of CSKA showing up with an AK-47. (You just gotta love Russia!) Even more hilarious, they had AK pose with it at the press conference and photo shoot.
CSKA management had previously said that their roster was set in July and they wouldn’t be adding any more players. They were also opposed to giving AK an NBA out. However:
Andrei Vatutin, PBC CSKA President
When the NBA lockout started we considered it incorrect to sign someone with a risk to leave. But after the second thought we decided to make an exception in Andrei’s case. He is a special player for CSKA and Russian basketball. First, he already played for our team. Second, the country’s best player should play for the country’s best club…
I’d like to note that [CSKA head coach] Jonas Kazlauskas’ opinion was very important for us and in fact the final decision was taken by him. I’d like to say ‘thank you’ to Norilsky Nickel management once again for supporting our idea to invite the Russian National Team leader.
Jonas Kazlauskas, CSKA head coach:
My opinion–you should not take the NBA player during the lockout. If they can leave you, you don’t know what to expect. And only the [weak] teams can take this kind of step. At the same time every rule has its exception, and Kirilenko is the exception. Andrei is the star of Russian and world basketball, he means for his country as much as Sabonis for Lithuania, Pau Gasol for Spain, Nowitzki for Germany. He grew here, he played for CSKA, for Russia. (CSKA)
In his first stint with CSKA, Andrei wore #13 (and would never have started wearing #47 in Utah if John Amaechi, as the vet, hadn’t had the right to #13 when AK joined the Jazz). Looks like he’s sticking with #47 this time around, though…maybe? He’s wearing #15 (his Russian national team number) in the picture above, but listed as #47 on CSKA’s website.
AK’s new teammates include four of his Russian national team teammates–Ponkashrov (bleached blond guy), Shved (skinny slasher dude with shadowy facial hair), Vorontsevich (baby-faced blond that stood first in line during Eurobasket national anthems), and Khryapa (AK’s BFF; pictured above with AK-47 and the AK-47)–as well as Serbian national team’s Krstic (formerly of the Thunder and famed chair-thrower) and Teodosic (scoring PG in need of a shave and haicut).
AK had his physical yesterday and first practice with the team today. He’s expected to debut on October 17 vs. BC Zalgiris.
Implications of what this could mean for AK’s future with the Jazz–not that I know what they are–aside, yay! Basketball to watch!