Nets, free agent Andrei Kirilenko agree to 2-year deal
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ORLANDO, Fla. - Looks as if Plan B wasn't so bad after all.
Barely 24 hours after shifting gears because they couldn't come to a contract buyout agreement with Croatian sharpshooter Bojan Bogdanovic, the Nets pulled off a stunning coup Thursday, agreeing to terms with free-agent forward Andrei Kirilenko, according to a league source. The deal reportedly is for two years, the second being a player option, with Kirilenko getting the mini-midlevel exception of $3.18 million.
Kirilenko had opted out of the second year of his deal with the Timberwolves that was scheduled to pay him $10 million, presumably in an attempt to get a more lucrative contract. But now the 6-9 forward will get the chance to re-enter the open market again next season.
Kirilenko, who played with Deron Williams from 2005-11 for the Jazz, is expected to back up Paul Pierce at small forward. The 32-year-old Russian native averaged 12.4 points and 5.7 rebounds during his lone season in Minnesota. Kirilenko played for CSKA Moscow the previous season, when he was named MVP of the Euroleague.
"At this point of his career, he's fortunate to have made a lot of money,'' Kirilenko's agent, Marc Fleischer, told NBA.com. "And while money is important, I think they convinced him that signing with a team that had a chance to win -- and that had Russian ownership -- was too good to pass up.''
Kirilenko should help the Nets defensively and solidify their bench, which boasts Andray Blatche and Shaun Livingston -- after their official signings were announced Thursday -- to go with Jason Terry, Reggie Evans, Mason Plumlee and Mirza Teletovic. They'll try to complement the starting five of Williams, Pierce, Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez and Kevin Garnett.
Speaking of Garnett, although not exactly on the grand scale of the Hatfields making amends with the McCoys, Blatche suggested their rift is over.
In 2010, Blatche, then with the Wizards, engaged Garnett in some serious trash-talking episodes. During one game in particular, Blatche taunted Garnett, who's notorious for his yapping on the court. But with the two set to become teammates -- the trade sending Garnett, Pierce and Terry to the Nets is expected to be completed Friday -- Blatche said that beef is over.
"Kevin actually surprised me one game when we were playing against each other,'' Blatche said. "I believe it was last year. Yeah, when I was in Brooklyn. Playing against him, at the free- throw line, he said, 'Hey, man, keep your head up and keep playing.' And when he said that, it caught me off guard because you know me and him with our history.
"And I was just like, 'Oh, OK, I guess we're cool now.' I took that as the whole little rivalry thing is over with.''