The Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce trade was exciting, but the move the Brooklyn Nets made this offseason that may have really put them into championship contender territory was the Andrei Kirilenko signing.
That deal may have been one of the best moves of the offseason because the Nets desperately needed defense. Yes, the Garnett move helped with that, but KG is not going to be guarding the team’s elite players like Carmelo Anthony and Lebron James. That’s what Kirilenko is for. The best part of the trade though is that they got him to agree to a mid-level exception deal at $3.1 million which seemed impossible to do as he made $10 million last season.
Because the trade filled such a big need and he was landed at a next-to-nothing price tag, the Kirilenko signing is considered one of the best this offseason. Chris Bernucca of Sheridan Hoops acknowledged this in his top 10 offseason free agent signings article as he ranked the Kirilenko deal the fourth best of the entire offseason.
4. Andrei Kirilenko, Brooklyn (2 years, $6.5 million): He and his agent dramatically overestimated the market, opting out of a $10 million season with Minnesota in search of a multiyear deal in the range of $8-10 million annually that never came. His loss became the Nets’ gain, as new coach Jason Kidd now has an athletic defender with length to sic on conference rivals Paul George, Luol Deng, Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James. Don’t be surprised if Kidd goes defense-offense with Kirilenko and Paul Pierce late in games.
It’s hard to argue because he was the guy that the Nets really needed. The casual fan is excited about getting Pierce, but smart fans realize that Kirilenko was probably the biggest difference on this team. If he can stay healthy this year, he can be the rug that ties the room together. Without him this might have just been a very expensive fourth place team.