Return of Andrei Kirilenko Would Be Welcome News for Brooklyn Nets

By Brendan Murray
Andrei Kirilenko
Gary A. Vasquez-USA Today Sports

Last season Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov was able to appeal to forward Andrei Kirilenko‘s sense of nationalism after he convinced the veteran to take a significant paycut to play in Brooklyn.

Here’s hoping that for his team’s sake, he can convince Kirilenko to return on the cheap again this year. The Russian forward had a productive 2013-2014 season for Brooklyn and was a particularly efficient investment for the cap-squeezed Nets thanks to his $3.18 million salary.

He’s still due for a small raise for 2014-2015, with his salary rising to $3.32 million, but only if he exercises his player option. It’s unclear whether or not he’ll explore free agency next season, but the Nets are surely hoping that he’ll be back at that price.

He was a fairly effective offensive player last season with five points a game on an efficient 51% shooting average, and rebounded well given his age, averaging just under four boards a night. He struggled to find a true role in head coach Jason Kidd‘s rotations however, so his impact was minimal for much of the season.

Kirilenko’s own values will ultimately decide where he goes next season. He likely wouldn’t make much more than his potential salary in the player option on the free agent market, but if he wants a more significant role or has his heart set on a championship he could go elsewhere.

On the other hand, he clearly has a good relationship with Prokhorov, and said in February that he viewed the contract as a two year deal rather than a one year agreement. He seemed happy for most of the season in Brooklyn, so the odds seem to be in favor of him staying.

The Nets should be hoping he comes back, and Kidd should find room for Kirilenko to get more minutes if he does return. He’s an effective shooter and is a better bargain than any other player with his resume.

Andrei Kirelenko was one of the more shrewd moves in last year’s free agent period. The Nets would be fortunate to continue benefiting from the bargain signing.

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