More teams are complaining to the NBA about the Brooklyn Nets and it’s not the Knicks this time. The league conducted a “thorough” investigation into the deal between the Nets and the Russian-born Andrei Kirilenko after at least one team called the league to complain, but, according to Fred Kerber of the NY Post, nothing was found to be shady.
“When there is a formal complaint, the league will look into it,” said one league official told the Post.
“It was a very, very thorough investigation,” another source told the Post. “They checked everything.”
The reason so many teams are questioning the deal is because Kirilenko passed up a $10 million deal with the Timberwolves to sign a $3.1 million deal with the Nets. He may have even left a $7 million sign-and-trade option with the Spurs on the table. Oh yeah, and they’re both Russian.
“Old stereotypes, they’re very hard to beat and to break,” Prokhorov said during the Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce press conference. “I respect all the NBA rules and we play by the NBA rules. But I want just to stress once again, like with luxury tax, I will do whatever I can in order to win championship — but under the NBA rules. Please make no mistake about this.”
“I can’t do anything with what people think,” Kirilenko said back in July. “I’m coming from the facts. I can’t change it. I can’t control it. …Those type of rumors I can’t control. And I guess it comes from the history because of the Russian KGB. It makes it a little funny. What can I do?”
Like I wrote at the time of the deal, it’s possible that some kind of side deal went down, but even if something like that happened it would be next to impossible to prove. More likely though, Kirilenko opted out of his contract because he thought there would be a greater market for his services and when that turned out not to be the case, he accepted less to play for a contender that happens to have a Russian owner.
On top of the fact that he may have wanted to avoid a sign-and-trade scenario or simply wanted to join a contender, Kirilenko is friends with Deron Williams from his days in Utah. Kirilenko has also played for Prokhorov for his team in Russian about 10 years ago.
This is what happens when teams spend a crazy amount like Prokhorov and the Nets have done this offseason — they become a target. I think that’s what’s going on here. Credit to the league though, even though it likely realized that it was impossible to prove at least they went out and did something to shut the other owners and teams up.
Kirilenko has averaged 14.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.3 blocks and 1.7 steals per 36 minutes during his career while shooting 47.3 percent from the floor and 31.0 percent behind the arc. It was a big deal for the Nets to get him this offseason as he will likely get lots of minutes off the bench backing up Paul Pierce and he provides them with a strong defender to use against opponent’s top players. His contract is a two-year deal with the second year being a player option that will pay him $3.1 million each year.