An AK-47 the city will embrace
By Brian Mahoney
The Brooklyn Nets have agreed to a contract with forward Andrei Kirilenko, another strong addition for a team that has loaded up on talent this offseason.
Kirilenko accepted the taxpayer's mid-level exception worth about $3.2 million this season. The contract includes a player option for the second year, a person with knowledge of the deal said Thursday on condition of anonymity because it has not been announced.
The Russian forward opted out of his $10.2 million deal for next season with the Minnesota Timberwolves and found a home with the Nets — owned by fellow Russian and former CSKA Moscow owner Mikhail Prokhorov.
The versatile forward is the latest acquisition for a team whose previous moves this offseason include a pending trade to acquire Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett from Boston.
Kirilenko can back up or play alongside either with the Nets and likely will be popular in Brooklyn, where there is a strong Russian presence.
The 6-foot-9 Kirilenko averaged 12.4 points, right at his career average, last season for the Timberwolves. But his strength is his versatility on defense, where he can match up with forwards and guards.
It's another costly move for the Nets, who already were facing a league-high tax payment of more than $70 million next season, the first of the most severe penalties for the NBA's biggest spenders. But Prokhorov has set a goal of a championship within five years and the Nets have clearly upgraded after winning 49 games and losing in the first round of the playoffs last season.
Earlier Thursday, they announced the re-signing of forward-center Andray Blatche and the signing of guard Shaun Livingston.