The Minnesota Timberwolves have missed out on plenty of their free agent targets up to this point, but now they have interest in a familiar name to NBA fans, forward Andrei Kirilenko. The Golden State Warriors and Brooklyn Nets have both been reported to have interest in him, but the Timberwolves could make a more lucrative financial offer and after multiple failures to bring aboard free agents this summer should be willing to do just that.
Kirilenko spent this past season playing for CSKA Moscow, at least in part to the uncertainty surrounding the NBA lockout, and was named 2012 Euroleague MVP after averaging 14.1 points and 7.5 rebounds over 17 Euroleague games. It was previously thought he may stay in his home country and play for CSKA Moscow, but more recent news has said he plans to return to the NBA for the 2012-2013 season.
Kirilenko was a first round pick (24th overall) by the Utah Jazz in 1999 and played 10 seasons for the team starting in 2001-2002. His best season came in 2003-2004 when he averaged 16.5 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 2.8 blocks and 1.9 steals per game as he earned his only All-Star appearance. Kirilenko also earned All-NBA Defensive First Team honors in 2005-2006, as he led the league in blocked shots (3.3 per game). His production did fall some in more recent years, but for his NBA career Kirilenko has averaged 12.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 2.0 blocked shots and 1.4 steals per game over 681 games (478 starts).
Kirilenko has the size (6’9″, 235 pounds) and overall skill set to play both forward positions comfortably, but Minnesota may value what he can contribute defensively the most with the other pieces they have in place. It’s fair to wonder how much he has left at age 31 with extensive international experience as well, but the Timberwolves can offer him a role and salary he is looking for. The Timberwolves could clear significant salary if the reported trade they are involved in with the Phoenix Suns and New Orleans Hornets goes through, with Wesley Johnson going to Phoenix, which would then open the door to make Kirilenko an offer he may not be able to refuse.