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Report: NBA executives don’t trust Mikhail Prokhorov after Nets sign Andrei Kirilenko on cheap

Jul 12, 2013, 3:00 PM EDT

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kirilenko blocks a shot by Brooklyn Nets forward Humphries in the first quarter of their NBA basketball game in New York

Andrei Kirilenko opted out of a Timberwolves contract that would have paid him $10.2 million next season, and he accepted a contract with the Nets that starts at $3.18 million.

Kirilenko is Russian, as is Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov.

Apparently, NBA executives have connected those facts, and they’re mad, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:

Within the NBA, there had long been those promising that deals would start popping up involving Prokhorov that made no fiscal sense, theorizing that high-end players could take less within the constraints of the salary cap and still make up the difference in clandestine pacts.

“Brazen,” one Western Conference GM told Yahoo! Sports.”Let’s see if the league has any credibility,” one NBA owner told Yahoo! Sports. “It’s not about stopping it. It’s about punishing them if they’re doing it.”Another Eastern Conference GM: “There should be a probe. How obvious is it?”The telephone calls and text messages kept coming on Thursday night and Friday morning, and the reason was simple: Few trust Prokhorov to honor the NBA’s salary-cap rules and regulations. He made his $15 billion fortune in the wild 1990s in Russia in what he called, “cowboy territory with no sheriff.” Bribes were part of the business culture, and Prokhorov confessed to his part in it.

This strikes me as way too prejudiced.

What was the higher-paying offer Kirilenko rejected as a free agent? Once he opted out, that $10.2 million was no longer on the table. Kirilenko wouldn’t be the first player to misdiagnose the market when deciding on a player option, and the fact that he took a one-year deal with a player option for a second season suggests he wants to try free agency again sooner than later. He also wouldn’t be the first player to join a contender for less than market value.

Nearly everyone agreed Paul Millsap should have gotten more money as a free agent. Millsap and Hawks co-managing partner Michael Gearon Jr. are both American. Did Millsap accept less money as part of an American conspiracy?

Andray Blatche took less money to spite Ted Leonsis, the American owner of the Wizards.  Is Blatche anti-American?

Not every signing is a statement on international relations – including Kirilenko’s.

  1. northstarsmitty - Jul 12, 2013 at 5:46 PM

    The observation of something sneaky, is valid and hard to argue. Do we think it actually happened? Seems 50/50. I think it is fair to say with all the conspiracy speculation that always surrounds the NBA, it does not seem unrealistic to suggest this could happen. I mean c’mon, frickin’ Glenn ‘cheapskate’ Taylor gave Joe Smith cash under the table to beat the cap, costing the T’wolves 5 1st round picks!!! So is it that hard to believe a Russian would do that? I mean ya know, Russians always keep their word when saying they will fulfill their NHL careers in America (cough-Kovalchuk)

  2. stebutt - Jul 12, 2013 at 6:08 PM

    I’m cynical I must admit. But really if no team comes along and says “we offered him 20 million over 3 years” or something like that, then it might have just been the best deal out there.

  3. tomtravis76 - Jul 12, 2013 at 6:18 PM

    Maybe he is actually thinking about his post nba life , and being prokhorovs ambassador for the Brooklyn nets internationally is what could be inline for him.

  4. scorp16 - Jul 12, 2013 at 6:46 PM

    You do realize Prokhorov travels with his own brothel? Right? A jet full of hookers. Right? Lets just say Kirilinko has some house credit now. Look up Prok in France in 2007.

    • jimeejohnson - Jul 12, 2013 at 10:03 PM

      That’s a bit more than the “friendly” skies. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  5. northstarnic - Jul 12, 2013 at 8:42 PM

    The best part of this whole fiasco is that The wolves will be better than the nets this year. In the regular season anyway. The postseason rolls around and the nets will probably have more success (If they make the playoffs). But only because the NBA isn’t interested in real competition. Big market teams need to win because they make more money for the league. Jason Kidd = terrible hire.

    • scorp16 - Jul 12, 2013 at 10:14 PM

      I’ll somewhat agree. May be a bad hire for the Nets. Because the pressure is to win now. He’s got the knowlege but needs to develop the skills. Probably would have been better off on the Indiana, Miami, OKC, or San Antonio bench for a few years. When it’s all said and done though…..in about 12 years…….you’ll be sharing stories with your kids about how you watched Jkidd play when they only know him as a championship coach…..Kinda like Doc…..You gotta get thrown in the fire and get you feet wet some time.

    • scorp16 - Jul 12, 2013 at 10:25 PM

      Miami, San Antonio, Indiana, and Memphis aren’t exactly what I would qualify as “Big Market” teams. These were the NBA Conference finals teams. Ratings were at an all time high……………Your point?

    • Kevin S. - Jul 12, 2013 at 10:30 PM

      How in the blazes do you figure? The Nets were eighteen games better last year, upgraded two black holes in their lineup, and deepened their bench. You can say what you want about Kidd not being ready for the job, but they won in spite of PJ last year, so it’s not like the coaching will get worse. The only place the Nets are worse this year is backup point guard.

  6. milkcan44 - Jul 12, 2013 at 10:44 PM

    The author Feldman is naive as heck. Almost any Russian billionaire is or was a crook. They didn’t get rich by observing ethics in business. They should catch Prokorov at his game and squeeze his balls big so he gets the American message.

  7. dezglobal - Jul 12, 2013 at 11:01 PM

    Dude im not gonna lie if I was worth $15 billion I wouldn’t care about salary caps or rules for that fact. It would take me soooooo long to spend the money.. Id want a good team ill throw them some extra cash behind the scenes. Build AK47 a $8 million dollar house in mother russia. screw it lets win a ring.

  8. ezzz2the - Jul 13, 2013 at 12:00 AM

    Lebron “bought” Pat Riley’s old house in Miami after taking a pay cut to play with the Heat. Do what you want with that.

  9. proxysays - Jul 13, 2013 at 12:10 AM

    He also got 10m in Russian currency. And 5 wives.

  10. sjbrown8 - Jul 15, 2013 at 11:08 AM

    If I was a Russian player, I would definitely see it as a great networking opportunity to play with an owner who is Russian and a billionaire.

    If I knew of a sure-fire job opening with the same security and quality of my current job, and the boss and/or boss’s boss shared my alma mater, I would definitely jump at it for a few less dollars because I know there would be other opportunities short-term and long-term to make up for it.

  11. johnmiked - Jul 17, 2013 at 7:32 AM

    Wow love the cluelessness. Just call a spade a spade, the guy AK opted out of a player option for 10MIL a year to play for a MLE. I don’t care who you are your not leaving 14MIL on the table and oh btw at a30% tax difference. And nobody in Brighton beach will ever let stern find out how it’s getting done. I think it’s a bad deal not a fan. Because as it is it’s hard to control overseas money. This opens up a whole new box and that box is big.

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