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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.

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