Minnesota is finalizing a two-year, $20 million contract with free agent forward Andrei Kirilenko, league sources tell Y! Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 25, 2012
That price tag may be a bit high for the 31-year-old Russian, but the move would otherwise make a good deal of sense.
The versatile 6'9" forward was a model of consistency in his 10 seasons with the Utah Jazz. He averaged fewer than 10.7 points per game just once over that span, and his offense isn't even his primary selling point.
Kirilenko is a long, energetic defender. He's averaged at least a steal and a block per game in each of those 10 NBA seasons, and he's consistently hit the glass as well.
In short, he's just what the Timberwolves need.
The roster is in dire need of guys who can make an impact on the defensive end. Kevin Love can shoot from the perimeter and rebound at an incredible rate, but he's yet to prove himself as a defender.
Kirilenko will alleviate some of the pressure on Minnesota's All-Star to play at full capacity on both ends of the floor, giving the rotation a guy who can match up against the opposition's best forward at either the 3 or 4 position.
The Timberwolves let Michael Beasley head to the Phoenix Suns via the free-agent market, and it's unclear when 2011 second-overall pick Derrick Williams will be ready for heavy action.
With swingman Wesley Johnson headed to the Phoenix Suns in a three-team deal, Minnesota cleared additional space in the rotation for Kirilenko, along with the cap room to sign him.
Though the move ostensibly suggests that Minnesota was looking to substitute its scoring proficiency with improved wing defense, there's a good chance Kirilenko will fit into the club's offensive plans as well.
Head coach Rick Adelman has long relied upon variation of the "Princeton offense," which calls for off-the-ball movement and the kind of back-door cuts to the basket that fall well within Kirilenko's wheelhouse.
The lanky forward struggles to create his own shot and isn't an especially effective ball-handler, but he can finish in the paint given a scheme that gets the ball to him in the right place and at the right time.
With a brilliant passer like Ricky Rubio facilitating the action, Kirilenko could be more of a scoring threat than otherwise might be the case.
He won't blow anyone away with mid-range jumpers or isolation-heavy sets, but he can get the job done for a team like Minnesota.
Only time will tell if Kirilenko is actually worth the price he's rumored to cost, but in theory he's the perfect fit for Adelman's up-and-coming squad.
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