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Billy King shrugs off Kirilenko envy

Joe Johnson, left, assumes a low profile as

Joe Johnson, left, assumes a low profile as the Minnesota Timberwolves' Andrei Kirilenko looms over him. (Jan. 23, 2013) Credit: AP

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The whispers are apparently traveling around the league.

Some executives reportedly aren't thrilled the Nets landed Andrei Kirilenko at such a cheap price tag. Kirilenko had opted out of the final season of his two-year deal with the Timberwolves, one that would've pocketed him a cool $10 million in 2013-14. He wound up signing with the Nets for nearly $7 million less, taking their mini midlevel exception of $3.18 million on a two-year deal that includes a player option for 2014-15.

According to a Yahoo! Sports report, there are those around the league who believe there's something funny going on with Kirilenko accepting the Nets' offer, pointing to some sort of possible side deal with Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov.

King shrugged at the anonymous chatter and conspiracy theorists.

"I can’t control what people think, what they say," he said Friday. "I think some of the same things were said when Miami got the Big 3 together or guys have moved around. When things happen, people are surprised. My conscience is clean. I know in dealing with [Kirilenko's agent] Marc Fleisher and getting this deal done, I can’t control what people think."

The Nets' pursuit of Kirilenko picked up considerable steam late this week once things fell through with Croatian Bojan Bodanovic and both sides couldn't come to an agreement on his contract buyout with his Turkish team. King was about to look elsewhere before he decided to go after Kirilenko one more time.

Even Prokhorov, who's long admired Kirilenko, spoke with him on the phone to help sway him to come to Brooklyn. His signing is a move that seemingly came out of nowhere, particularly since few thought Kirilenko was in the price range of the salary-cap strapped Nets.

"When free agency started, you reach out to people and they say no," King said. "As the market starts changing you circle back. And they said no. You just keep checking. I just said, 'You want an opportunity, here’s what we have, and if you want to be able to go back on the market next year you can. I think we’ll have a great chance for you to showcase your talents on a great team, and give yourself a chance to play within that environment, play for Mikhail, and then you have a chance to go back on the market next year, with a great showcase.'

"That was my pitch. I was surprised, but looking where the marketplace had turned, I mean you’ve got guys still out there on the market that are trying to get money that opted out of big deals."

New York Sports