It’s official: Andrei Kirilenko is a Pesky Timberwolf :( (updated)
Front page of timberwolves.com:
Official statements from the Timberwolves side:
“We are pleased that Andrei has decided to resume his NBA career with the Minnesota Timberwolves,” said David Kahn, Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations. “Over his time in the NBA he has proven to be one of the best defensive players in the world. His ability to play multiple positions and big-game experience will be wonderful assets to our team. He is coming off an MVP season in Europe, on what many believe was the best team in Europe, CSKA Moscow. We are excited to see him in a Timberwolves uniform and wish him well in the upcoming Olympics, where he will be the star player for the Russian National Team.”
“I’m excited to be returning to the NBA with the Minnesota Timberwolves,” Kirilenko said. “The Wolves have one of the best coaches in the league in Rick Adelman and I feel my game fits in well with his style of play. I also like the talent that Minnesota has on the team with star players like Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio.” (Timberwolves)
“[Kirilenko] is athletic, hits all the boxes of what we were looking for in terms of the kind of player that we frankly felt we didn’t have on the roster,” Kahn said. “Someone who is capable of playing multiple positions, somebody who is capable of being efficient and able to score without plays being run for him. He’s a very hard cutter, which we feel in our offense will be welcomed additions.”
Kahn said after Nicolas Batum’s offer sheet was matched by Portland, Kirilenko was the next small forward on the team’s wish list. He said Kirilenko was pursued by other teams, but the Wolves’ young lineup coupled with coach Rick Adelman’s ability on the sidelines were two big reasons for his interest in Minnesota. (Timberwolves)
Official statements from the CSKA side:
Andrey Vatutin, CSKA President:
When we just signed the contract I said that I will be happy even if he plays just several games in our team’s uniform. In the end Kirilenko spent the full season with CSKA and I am happy – the dream came true not only for me but for all CSKA and other Russian team fans who got the chance to see AK-47 playing in front of them…
Definitely we would like Andrey to stay, that would benefit CSKA and whole European basketball. He has become the example for everyone – teammates, staff, he demonstrated dedication, professional approach. Thanks to Kirilenko we saw the growth of interest to basketball in Russia: the arenas were sold out in every city we have visited. We understand perfectly that Kirilenko is a top-player, he has to play on the highest level possible. And the highest level is in the NBA. And our respect towards him will stay the same even after he decided to leave.
I am grateful to CSKA for the last season and the year I spent with the team before going to America. That was not an easy decision because I liked it here, I felt comfortable, and we have had great atmosphere in the locker room. I was lucky to play in my native country being healthy and in good shape, to please my friends and relatives, all the Russian fans…
I did not want to let CSKA and Andrey Vatutin personally down when the transfer market is still hot. Sincerely wish good luck to the army men and the fans, CSKA successes will always be very important for me. (CSKA)
I’ve been processing this with a good ol’ dose of denial,* but this tweet from Wolves beat writer Jerry Zgoda is kind of killing my denial buzz:
* AK’s second-most-rumored destination in free agency was Golden State, where he would’ve played for Mark Jackass. This does make him going to Minnesota a lot easier to take.
For now, I’ll just end with this…here’s to ten years, ten uniforms, one team, one AK-47:
P.S. On a semi-related note, here are AK and Deron Williams at the Olympics opening ceremony in London (posted by Deron on his Instagram):
At Team USA’s press conference, Deron was asked about AK and said that he and AK discussed their respective free agencies when they hung out in Istanbul during the Euroleague Final Four and then in Moscow after that.