Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kirilenko blocks a shot by Brooklyn Nets forward Humphries in the first quarter of their NBA basketball game in New York

Report: NBA executives don’t trust Mikhail Prokhorov after Nets sign Andrei Kirilenko on cheap


Andrei Kirilenko opted out of a Timberwolves contract that would have paid him $10.2 million next season, and he accepted a contract with the Nets that starts at $3.18 million.

Kirilenko is Russian, as is Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov.

Apparently, NBA executives have connected those facts, and they’re mad, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:

Within the NBA, there had long been those promising that deals would start popping up involving Prokhorov that made no fiscal sense, theorizing that high-end players could take less within the constraints of the salary cap and still make up the difference in clandestine pacts.

“Brazen,” one Western Conference GM told Yahoo! Sports.”Let’s see if the league has any credibility,” one NBA owner told Yahoo! Sports. “It’s not about stopping it. It’s about punishing them if they’re doing it.”Another Eastern Conference GM: “There should be a probe. How obvious is it?”The telephone calls and text messages kept coming on Thursday night and Friday morning, and the reason was simple: Few trust Prokhorov to honor the NBA’s salary-cap rules and regulations. He made his $15 billion fortune in the wild 1990s in Russia in what he called, “cowboy territory with no sheriff.” Bribes were part of the business culture, and Prokhorov confessed to his part in it.

This strikes me as way too prejudiced.

What was the higher-paying offer Kirilenko rejected as a free agent? Once he opted out, that $10.2 million was no longer on the table. Kirilenko wouldn’t be the first player to misdiagnose the market when deciding on a player option, and the fact that he took a one-year deal with a player option for a second season suggests he wants to try free agency again sooner than later. He also wouldn’t be the first player to join a contender for less than market value.

Nearly everyone agreed Paul Millsap should have gotten more money as a free agent. Millsap and Hawks co-managing partner Michael Gearon Jr. are both American. Did Millsap accept less money as part of an American conspiracy?

Andray Blatche took less money to spite Ted Leonsis, the American owner of the Wizards.  Is Blatche anti-American?

Not every signing is a statement on international relations – including Kirilenko’s.

Byron Scott says they just have to get Kobe Bryant better looks

Kobe Bryant, Joe Johnson, Byron Scott
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Kobe Bryant is averaging 15.2 points a game at age 37. It’s just taking him 16.4 shots per game to get there. After his 1-of-14 shooting performance against the Warriors the other night — with too much isolation and too many plays run just for him — there has been a lot of talk about his shot. With reason, this is his shot chart so far this season.

Kobe shotchart season

So what do the Lakers’ do? Get Kobe to shoot less and get the ball in the hands of the young stars they supposed to be developing more? Nah.

They just need to get Kobe better looks, Scott told the Los Angeles Times.

“I know his mentality is that he can still play in this league,” Scott said. “And we feel the same way….

“Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot, and I think everybody can see that,” Scott said. “So it’s trying to get him in better position to be able to have an opportunity to knock those shots down on a consistent basis. That’s No. 1.

“I don’t know if it’s his legs. I don’t think so. Again, our conversations are pretty blunt. … He tells me when he is tired and he tells me when he’s not tired. And the last few days, he said he feels great. So, I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired or his legs being tired. I think it’s a matter of his timing being a little off.”

Yes, how could it be his legs? It’s not like he’s a 37-year-old with more than 55,000 NBA minutes played, and coming off an Achilles rupture and major knee surgery.

Honestly, I hope the Lakers and Kobe find a balance soon, because they have become just hard to watch. And I don’t want Kobe to go out this way.

Is Stephen Curry the Lionel Messi of the NBA?

Lionel Messi
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Stephen Curry has reached the transcendent point in his career. We’re now talking about if he has passed LeBron James as the best player on the planet (he has), and we’re starting to think about his legacy as the perfect point guard for a modern NBA small-ball, space-and-pace offense. Plus he’s just a joy to watch play.

Does that make him the Lionel Messi of the NBA?

Curry was asked to compare himself to the Barcelona/Argentinian player who (arguably) is the greatest soccer player in the world, certainly as elite a finisher as that sport has ever seen. Here is his answer, via the Sydney Morning Herald of Australia. Is Curry the bigger international star now?

“I don’t know – it’s a chicken and egg kind of conversation,” Curry said while laughing.

“We both have a creative style, a feel when you are out on the pitch or the court. I’m trying to do some fancy things out there with both hands, making crossover moves and having a certain flair to my game and that’s definitely the style Messi has when he is out there in his matches.”

I love Curry, but Messi is the bigger international star.

But I love the comparison in terms of the must-watch nature of the two stars, the flair in their games, the sense that you have to keep an eye on them at all times because the spectacular could happen any time they touch the ball. When the ball comes to them, everybody leads forward in their chairs. That is the sign of a real superstar.

Jahlil Okafor fights man in Boston (video)

Jahlil Okafor

The 76ers lost a heartbreaker to the Celtics last night, dropping Philadelphia to 0-16.

Jahlil Okafor was apparently in a foul mood after the game.


We’re told everyone got up and fled the scene and no arrests were made.

We’re told the altercation began because one of the men in the other group yelled at Jahlil, “The 76ers suck.”

We spoke with a rep for Jahlil who tells us … Okafor says he was being heckled from the moment he left the club and felt threatened because people swarmed him on the street.


This video obviously doesn’t show everything, but it certainly makes Okafor look like the aggressor.

Okafor will probably face punishment from some combination of the legal system, NBA and 76ers.