During last year’s offseason, the Minnesota Timberwolves signed forward Andrei Kirilenko to a two year contract worth near $20 million. Having missed 18 games this season due to injury, Kirilenko appears to be just what I thought he would be in the beginning — a waste of time and money for the Wolves.
While Kirilenko is undoubtedly a good player, he is not worth the near $10 million per year the Wolves offered him. He is 32 years old, no where near the athlete he used to be and obviously not as healthy as Minnesota would like him to be.
Defense and hustle is still what Kirilenko does best, but that’s not where the Wolves need the most help. Minnesota could have been better off using that money towards an offensive wing player. The Wolves have lacked a two guard or small forward who can create his own shot and be called upon in crunch time to score when they need him most.
This year, Kirilenko has performed well. There is no denying he has made the team better when on the court, averaging 12.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.5 steals and a block per game this year. He is a guy that can still do it all, but offensively he is not the juggernaut the Timberwolves needed.
Next season the Wolves must find a way to get the kind of wing player they desperately need. Pairing with point guard Ricky Rubio, a solid two guard could make the Wolves a heck of a lot better. Whether or not they keep Kirilenko or use him as trade bait, I am not sure. I would guess they keep Kirilenko and try to trade forward Derrick Williams to fill that need.
In the end, it might not have mattered had the Wolves gone another direction and sought after a shooting guard. They are in the midst of an injury-ridden season that has them far from playoff contention. Who knows though, what would have happened had they landed a scorer who could put up 18-22 points per game. Maybe, just maybe, Rubio would have them closer to contention.