Reports out of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune today indicate that Andrei Kirilenko will opt out of the final year of his contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves and become an unrestricted free agent. The 6’9″ small forward had one year remaining at $10.2 million. He is reportedly looking for a long term deal, but will likely have to take less money to get that security.
Kirilenko, 32, has spent 11 seasons in the NBA. He spent his first ten years playing for the Utah Jazz before spending 2011-12 with CSKA Moscow, signing there while the NBA was locked out. He returned to the NBA this season with Minnesota signing a deal with the club last July. He averaged 12.4 points per game on 50.7 percent shooting and had 5.7 rebounds a game for the Timberwolves last season. This was close to his career averages of 12.4 points per game on 47.3 percent shooting and 5.6 rebounds per game.
Minnesota drafted Shabazz Muhammad on Thursday in the NBA draft, and it is expected that the UCLA forward will be the beneficiary if Kirilenko does leave the Minnesota Timberwolves as he can take many of Kirilenko’s minutes and scoring opportunities.
By letting Kirilenko go, the Timberwolves would gain valuable cap space to re-sign restricted free agent centre Nikola Pekovic, and to add a long range shooter to the team. The Wolves finished last in the NBA in 3 point shooting last season, and this is a major need for a team that finished 12th in the Western Conference, 14 games out of the playoffs.
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