As we learned last night, having lost out on Nicolas Batum last week, the Timberwolves have shifted their focus to trying to land Russian forward Andrei Kirilenko. The T-Wolves have entered three-way trade talks with the Suns and Hornets in an effort to clear cap space. While that trade has yet to be finalized, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports that centerpiece Robin Lopez could be returning soon from a vacation to take a physical for the Hornets.
If the proposed deal goes through, the T-Wolves would be parting ways with former fourth overall pick Wesley Johnson and a future lottery-protected first-round pick. While the move is more about cap space for Minnesota, the team would also acquire a pair of second-round picks from the Hornets, according to Wojnarowski.
With the Timberwolves' deals for Greg Stiemsma, Alexey Shved and Brandon Roy yet to be finalized, it's unclear exactly how much cap space the team currently owns. Based on reported salaries for those three players, I'm guessing the team would have about $3-4MM left over after signing those deals. Removing Johnson's $4.29MM salary from the books as well would allow the T-Wolves to make a competitive offer for Kirilenko, who isn't interested in signing for the veteran's minimum in Brooklyn, according to Wojnarowski.
According to Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Wolves are willing to pay as much as $9MM per season over two years for Kirilenko. While we're not sure if they can go quite that high in year one, any agreement would figure to be in that ballpark — Wojnarowski says Kirilenko is seeking a contract that would pay him "in the vicinity" of $8MM annually.
For his part, Kirilenko has said he wants to decide on his new team before the Olympics begin, so we should get some resolution on the 31-year-old's contract situation in the near future.