Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett‘s additions to the Brooklyn Nets made a splash, so much so that point guard Deron Williams told one of his bosses to “shut up” when he heard to news. A separate move that got much less fanfare could turn out to be just as pivotal, though, according to one player.
Williams is as high on the below-market addition of Andrei Kirilenko as he is on the megadeal that sent Pierce, Garnett and Jason Terry to Brooklyn. Williams and Kirilenko are old teammates from their time in Utah, where they led the Jazz to the Western Conference finals in 2007.
“Once I saw that [Kirilenko] had opted out [of his contract with Minnesota] and free agency was kind of drying up, I was like, ‘Man, just come play for us for one year, and you can make more money next year,'” Williams told the New York Post. “He’s made a lot of money in his career, so it wasn’t about money. He wants to come to a team where he gets to have fun and has a chance to win, and I think he’s going to have a chance to play here and we’re excited about that addition.
“That’s as big of an addition as [Pierce and Garnett], if you ask me.”
Kirilenko opted out of $10 million in the final year of his deal with the Timberwolves to sign a $3.1 million contract with the Nets. That move, more than any other in this active offseason for the Nets, sparked accusations by other owners that Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov may be stretching the rules by offering “side deals” to his players to lessen the team’s luxury tax penalties.