Let the AK rumor mill get to work…
This isn’t the first AK-to-somewhere-in-Europe rumor we* have seen.
*By “we,” I mean “I,” unless you are also crazy enough to be doing Google News searches in languages you don’t read or speak.
So far this offseason, there have already been reports (link in Russian) that Andrei received a 2-year, $12.5 million offer from Russian ball club Spartak St. Petersburg, which also happens to be the first professional basketball team AK ever played for…which he did at the tender age of 15.
Meanwhile, the president of CSKA Moscow, AK’s second pro team, has said (also Russian), per Google Translate:
Andrei Kirilenko with his talent, experience and energy are able to successfully pursue a career as a club in the NBA and Europe. But we must proceed from the desire of the player. We have repeatedly talked with Andrew recently, and as far as I know, its priority-the NBA. Although Victor Khryapa would be happy to sign the CSKA his friend, with whom they have long dreamed to play together.
There’s also been reported (in Turkish) interest from Enes Kanter’s former team (and Gordan Giricek’s most recent team), Fenerbahce.
Today, I think, we move from speculative reports to semi-concrete stories.
C has been sending me bits and pieces from Spanish sports newspaper Marca in the past few days. She got them from the .pdf versions of the paper, so I don’t have links.
From the 7/4 edition (in the original Spanish, followed by her translation):
El último en saltar a la palestra fue Andréi Kirilenko. El ruso, tras jugar 10 años en Utah Jazz, asegura que le gustaría jugar en España: “Es la Liga más fuerte del continente, sería interesante probar allí. Además, si el lockout acaba, yo no tendría que volver a la NBA porque soy agente libre”. Pese a todo, no se moja: “Mencionar un equipo es prematuro, mi agente me presentará una lista con ofertas en dos semanas”.
The last one to say something was Andrei Kirilenko. The Russian, after playing 10 years in the Utah Jazz, said he would like to play in Spain: “It’s the strongest league on the continent, and it would be interesting to play there. In addition, if the lockout ends, I won’t have to return to the NBA because I’m a free agent.” In spite of everything, he refused to commit: “Talking about one team is premature; my agent will present me with a list of offers in two weeks.”
And from the 7/7 edition:
Andrei Kirilenko offered last week to be [Real Madrid’s] forward. The Russian international, who wants to return to Europe, asked for 4 million euros per season. The club doesn’t have that much in next year’s budget, even though they had set aside a quantity to sign Rudy [Fernandez].
What’s going through my head: If AK elects to stay in Europe beyond the lockout, it would be way less painful than if he signs with another NBA team. Meanwhile, if during the lockout he signs with some European team and through some quirky, whimsical twist of fate Fes ends up on that same team as well, the NBA can just keep on locking itself out as far as I’m concerned. :)