The Minnesota Timberwolves expected this, and if they want Andrei Kirilenko back next season now they are going to have to pay more for it.
Looking for some longer-term security, 32-year-old Kirilenko has opted out of the last year of his deal (worth $10.2 million) and will become an unrestricted free agent, reports Jerry Zgoda at the Star-Tribune. Kirilenko can re-sign with the Timberwolves or any other team.
Kirilenko is seeking a three- or four-year extension because he believes this might be the last chance to negotiate the last big contract of his career.
You can bet Flip Saunders won’t offer anything more than two years, and at a salary considerably less than $10 million.
What Kirilenko is doing is what Andre Iguodala and a lot of other players have done — they may take less money in the next season to get the security of a long-term deal.
Kirilenko averaged 12.4 points on 50.7 percent shooting plus had 5.7 rebounds a game for the Timberwolves last season playing primarily at the three. After spending the post-lockout season playing for CSKA Moscow, he returned to the NBA and continued to be a good performer with moments of impressive play.
If as expected he leaves Minnesota, just drafted Shabazz Muhammad could get some of Kirilenko’s minutes.
How much will teams pay for that in the new CBA with all the new taxes? Kirilenko is an interesting test of what teams will pay in the new CBA world, and for how long.
He will not be in the first wave of free agents picked up but there will be teams interested.