The Nets have agreed to sign unrestricted free agent forward Andrei Kirilenko to a two-year deal worth $6.4 million, according to CBSSports.com and USA Today Sports.
Peter Vecsey first reported that Kirilenko would join the Nets after opting out of the final year of his deal in Minnesota that would have paid him $10 million next season. The Nets will sign Kirilenko using their mini mid-level exception and the deal will reportedly include a player option on the final season.
Kirilenko, 32, averaged 12.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists for the Timberwolves last year after spending the 2011-12 season playing in Russia.
A long, versatile defender, Kirilenko will fit in beautifully on a veteran-dominated Nets roster with title aspirations. Known for his activity level but not his range on offense, Kirilenko is a box-score stuffer who spent the first 10 seasons of his career with Utah, where he earned an All-Star nod in 2004 and three All-Defensive team selections. It's hard to imagine a better replacement (and upgrade) for Gerald Wallace, traded to the Celtics earlier this summer, especially at this price.
Once Kirilenko opted out of his contract, Minnesota decided to go a different direction, landing free-agent acquisitions Kevin Martin ($28 million over four years) and Corey Brewer ($15 million over three years) to shore up their wings. The Russian forward reportedly drew interest from the Spurs and Cavaliers.
In Brooklyn, Kirilenko will bring depth to a team whose starting lineup of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez will earn more than $82 million combined. He will join a bench unit that also includes Andray Blatche, Reggie Evans, Mirza Teletovic, Shaun Livingston and first-round pick Mason Plumlee. Importantly, Kirilenko will serve as injury protection for both Pierce and Garnett -- as he could theoretically step in as a starter at either forward position -- and he can play alongside just about any combination of players because he doesn't dominate the ball on offense.
Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov was a key financial backer of CSKA Moscow for more than a decade, using his personal wealth to transform the Russian club into an international power. Kirilenko played for CSKA Moscow during the 2011 lockout and from 1998 to 2001 before he made the leap to the NBA.
It's always a great sign for a team when the immediate reaction to the terms of a contract agreement on Twitter is speculation that there must be an under-the-table arrangement going on. Needless to say, taxpayer mid-level signings don't come any better than this. For $3 million, capped-out teams usually expect to add a capable rotation player, not an established, two-way force who ranked tenth among small forwards in PER last year and whose numbers haven't yet showed any major signs of age deterioration. That Kirilenko will take such a drastic pay cut to go from Minnesota to Brooklyn is a legit mystery, but he does so knowing that he will have the opportunity to play for a contender.