Andrei Kirilenko, who recently signed to play with CSKA Moscow in his native Russia, is planning to make this season his last in professional basketball, as he said to Canal Plus, a French television outlet, and as Eurohoops.net shares online (YouTube link; hat tip to Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia).
“It’s probably my last season,” Kirilenko said. “I’m still thinking about next year, but for this moment, I feel like this is the last season. I don’t know yet. There’s a lot of years in front of me. Change my occupation. I’m not going to be a player anymore. I still think I’m going to be connected to the basketball, somehow.”
The 34-year-old forward has appeared in just two games since inking his deal with CSKA Moscow last month, scoring a total of 15 points in a combined 21 minutes of action. He made it into just seven games for a total of 36 minutes with the Nets this season before taking a leave of absence in November to tend to his wife, who reportedly endured a complicated pregnancy before giving birth to a healthy baby boy in February.
Brooklyn traded him to the Sixers in December, and while the Sixers wanted him to report and gave thought to flipping him at the trade deadline, Kirilenko never suited up for Philadelphia. The team placed him on unpaid suspension before releasing him in an apparent buyout deal shortly after the trade deadline passed.
Kirilenko signed with CSKA Moscow shortly thereafter and suggested that it would be the final stop in his career. He spent parts of 13 seasons in the NBA, joining the Jazz in 2001, two years after they drafted him 24th overall in 1999. He spent 10 seasons in Utah, making an All-Star appearance in 2004 and earning a reputation for his versatility and defense. Kirilenko was twice an All-Defensive Second Team selection and a First Team pick in 2005/06. The year before, he led the league in blocks at 3.3 per game, despite standing only 6’9″.
He returned to Europe to play for CSKA Moscow during the 2011 lockout and stayed with the team for the balance of the 2011/12 season. He re-emerged in the NBA the next year with the Timberwolves, but he surprisingly turned down a $10.219MM player option for 2012/13. Instead, he inked a two-year deal for about $6.509MM with the Nets that sparked controversy given the steep discount and the presence of fellow Russian Mikhail Prokhorov as Brooklyn’s owner. The NBA investigated the deal after complaints from at least one other team, but the league found no wrongdoing.
In an unexpected twist, Kirilenko made the contract look burdensome to the Nets as he failed to make the impact in Brooklyn that he regularly made throughout his career. For his career, he averaged 11.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 30.0 minutes per game with an 18.7 PER and 47.4% shooting. His career NBA earnings came to more than $104MM, according to Basketball-Reference, not including his salary from this season. His buyout brought this year’s cap hit for Philadelphia down to about $2.328MM, as Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders reported, but he presumably lost some of that amount because of his unpaid suspension.