1:23pm: The notion of a handshake deal between Kirilenko and the Sixers that was to result in the team releasing him conflicts with what John Gonzalez of CSNPhilly.com has heard from the start, Gonzalez tweets. The Sixers never wanted to waive him, according to Gonzalez, echoing his report from last month.
10:33am: Sixers coach Brett Brown confirmed Kirilenko is suspended without pay, tweets Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The suspension costs Kirilenko 1/110th of his salary for this season, worth more than $3.326MM.
9:58am: The team informed the NBA of the suspension earlier this week, Wojnarowski tweets.
9:49pm: Philadelphia indeed suspended Kirilenko, and the suspension is without pay, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link).
9:00am: The Sixers placed Andrei Kirilenko on the Suspended List, as Salary Cap FAQ author Larry Coon wrote in a chat for Basketball Insiders and as a source confirms to Hoops Rumors. It appears as though the team suspended Kirilenko, who hasn’t played since November 13th as he’s reportedly been dealing with a medical issue involving his pregnant wife. The 33-year-old forward has yet to report to the team after Philadelphia acquired him on December 11th in a trade with the Nets. Sources tell Bob Ford of the Philadelphia Inquirer that the Sixers and Kirilenko had a handshake agreement that the team would release him shortly after the trade, though a Sixers team source tells Ford that no such agreement was in place. Kirilenko’s failure to report to the team within 48 hours of receiving notice of the trade left him subject to a fine, suspension or both from the NBA as well as the Sixers, but signs point to the team having taken the action.
Kirilenko has gone down as one of Philadelphia’s inactive players for every game since the trade, but the Sixers would have had to list him as active for at least five games before they could move him to the Suspended List if he were on league suspension. That’s not the case with a team suspension, which allows the player to be either active or inactive for three games before he may be placed on the Suspended List, as noted in the NBA’s Constitution and By-Laws and as Coon’s Salary Cap FAQ explains.
Kirilenko’s presence on the Suspended List opened a spot on the 15-man roster for the the Sixers to trade for Jared Cunningham on Wednesday without offloading another player. Philadelphia would otherwise have been unable to do so, even though the Sixers quickly waived Cunningham and his non-guaranteed salary after the trade. Sixers coach Brett Brown acknowledged this week that Kirilenko’s absence played a role in the ability to swing the Cunningham trade. It’s not the first time this season that the Suspended List has allowed a team to add a player it otherwise couldn’t have. The Grizzlies briefly carried 16 players in November while Nick Calathes was serving a 20-game league suspension, as I explained.
Most suspensions are unpaid, though there’s no word of whether that’s the case with Kirilenko, nor is it clear how long his time on the Suspended List will last. The Sixers are willing to make some accommodations, but they feel as though the short distance between New York, where Kirilenko and his family have been living, and Philadelphia should allow him to play, as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports wrote last month.
Kirilenko’s wife is enduring a difficult pregnancy and the 13th-year veteran has wanted to stay home with her rather than play for the Nets or the Sixers, league sources tell Ford. The Nets told the Sixers prior to the trade that Kirilenko wouldn’t report and that he hoped to become a free agent, Ford hears. The Nets believed that the Sixers agreed to release Kirilenko after the trade, a source tells Ford, who also writes that Brooklyn had other trade options that would have given the Nets just as much, if not more, had Kirilenko been willing to play. Philadelphia declined to put Kirilenko through a physical before OKing the trade, according to Ford, who wonders why the Sixers wouldn’t have given him a checkup if they expected Kirilenko to hit the court. In any case, some teams have grown leery of doing business with Sixers GM Sam Hinkie, league sources tell Ford.
The issue involving Kirilenko’s wife won’t be resolved until February, as Kirilenko told reporters early last month. The trade deadline is February 19th. Regardless of whether the Sixers trade or waive him, it’s unlikely that Kirilenko remains on the roster past the deadline, Wojnarowski wrote late last month. The Cavs, Clippers and Rockets apparently held interest in Kirilenko earlier this season, and there were conflicting reports about whether the Jazz were in the mix.
Kirilenko’s agent and the Sixers did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Hoops Rumors.