Fresh off Paul Pierce's noncommittal comments regarding his preferred destination next season, it's now sounding like forward Andrei Kirilenko is at the very least considering a departure from the Brooklyn Nets.
Kirilenko has an option worth over $3.3 million for next season. He could be in the market for a slight raise, but it may be a tough sell. The 33-year-old is coming off his least productive season in the pros, averaging only five points and 3.2 rebounds in just 19 minutes per game.
Those numbers plummeted even further during the postseason. Kirilenko didn't even make it on to the floor for the team's first-round Game 1 against the Toronto Raptors. Afterward, he said, "I was a little bit surprised," according to ESPN New York's Mike Mazzeo.
Per Mazzeo, "Kirilenko, who missed 37 games due to various injuries, closed out the regular season by playing between 24-28 minutes in the last five games. Many believed he was going to be one of the team’s main X-factors in the playoffs because of his ability to guard multiple positions."
That never quite materialized.
Still, the Russian is known best for his defensive contributions, and the Nets didn't acquire him to be a prominent scorer. He could conceivably convince a team that he still has more left in the tank than the 2013-14 campaign suggested.
Much will depend on whether Kirilenko cares more about playing time or winning. He could make more money on a bad team that needs some veteran presence. He'll likely have to settle for something in that $3 million range if he wants to play for a winner.
The Nets will continue to have a pretty formidable roster one way or the other, so don't be surprised if Kirilenko sticks around. Part of the attraction is the opportunity to play for Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov. He's not going anywhere anytime soon.
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