When Andrei Kirilenko opted out of a $10 million in the last year of his contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves only to sign a $3.1 million deal with the Brooklyn Nets, a lot of eyebrows went up around the NBA.
Kirilenko, who is Russian, left $7 million on the table to sign with an owner who just happens to be a Russian billionaire? That struck plenty of people around the league as a little more than a coincidence. A lot of people thought there was an illegal side-deal here. They pretty much pictured something like the Russian oligarch from the DirecTV ad, right down to the miniature giraffe.
Kirilenko would be far from the first free agent to misjudge the market (which tightened this year thanks to the increasing luxury tax) and his own worth. Kirilenko’s agent told the Post that the problem was the other offers they had (for more money) involved putting together far more complex sign-and-trade deals, while signing with the Nets put him on a contender on a one-year deal (he has the option for the second) and was doable.
You can choose not to believe that, there are plenty around the league who would join you in your skepticism, but proving it is something else entirely. The league could not do that so AK-47 is part of what is a deep and interesting Nets team this year.