It has been an extremely eventful offseason for the Nets, one that saw them add Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and a whole lot of dollars to their luxury tax bill. They weren't quite done after their blockbuster deal with the Celtics, however, as they added Andrei Kirilenko to the mix, making the roster even more dangerous from an offensive standpoint.
The move raised eyebrows all across basketball because AK47 signed for the mini mid-level exception of $3.18MM after turning down a player option for the Wolves worth $10MM+. I asked Kirilenko in a conference call earlier today if the whispers of a possible under-the-table agreement bothered him.
"I've been in these kinds of situations in my career when rumors happened when I've [changed teams] and you hear different kind of stories in the media," the Russian forward explained. "I can't do anything about what people think. You can't change it, so you can't control it."
During the call, Kirilenko spoke glowingly about the Nets and their potential to contend this season. However, he explained that he didn't walk away from Minnesota with an eye on Brooklyn. In fact, he said no to the one-year player option with the T-Wolves because he was seeking a multiyear pact with the club.
"I opted out not because I wanted to sign with the Nets. At that time, I wanted to be in Minnesota for a long time. But there was a change in Minnesota. I respect Flip Saunders' decision, but he decided not to sign me for a long time. I can’t do anything about that," said Kirilenko, who reportedly left the club in part because of David Kahn's departure.
Kirilenko wasn't specifically looking to play for the NBA's first Russian owner or to reunite with Deron Williams, but said both aspects appealed to him. While his decision to opt out cost him roughly $7MM this season, Kirilenko added that he has no regrets about how things played out. Ultimately, the former All-Star is thrilled to have a "legit chance" at winning a title, even if it leaves him a little lighter in the wallet.