News is currently coming across the wire, per a league source, that Brooklyn Nets forward Andrei Kirilenko will be returning to the team for the 2014-15 season after exercising his player option. The news should prompt excited reactions from both Kirilenko, the Nets and their fans alike.
At just $3.3 million next season, Kirilenko is a key get for Brooklyn as they embark on the 2014 offseason. The team is already in salary cap hell and without anything to show for it. They will be handcuffed when attempting to bring new talent in, so getting a player like Kirilenko to return is key as it saves the Nets major headaches when they attempt to field a team for the next season. It’s unlikely they would find a veteran with Kirilenko’s pedigree on the open market for that price, so they should be pleased that the player who many argued was the best free agent signing in 2013 will be back in black (and white) when it comes time to tip later this year.
On top of his bargain price, Kirilenko is still a contributor, even in his old age. He struggled to find a consistent space in rookie head coach Jason Kidd‘s system, but a year working together should help that problem should begin to fade. He averaged just under 10 points per 36 minutes last season, so look for his scoring to improve as he carves out a more definite role in the rotation. His rebounding numbers at the 36 minutes are also at impressive levels given his age, and the Nets could use all the help they can get on the glass thanks to Brook Lopez‘s lackluster numbers.
Kirilenko should be just as excited, and its no surprise he returned. He clearly has a good working relationship with owner Mikhail Prokorhov, and the Nets may represent his best chance at a legitimate title run before he hangs up his hi-tops.
Though Kirilenko never quite lived up to the reputation of one of the best signings in last year’s offseason, he’s still a more than productive player and can be a key veteran on a contending team. His return is good news for both him and the Nets.