by Leo Sepkowitz | @LeoSepkowitz
Back in the beginning of the offseason, Andrei Kirilenko left one year and $10 million on the table from Minnesota to test the free agent waters. So it raised some eyebrows when he accepted a deal with the Nets—owned by Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov—worth slightly north of $3 million annually.
Apparently, owners across the League weren’t too pleased and at least one complained to the commissioner’s office about the signing. Perhaps the displeasure stemmed from the misconception that Kirilenko declined the $10 million with the intention of taking less than a third as much from the Nets, when really he only signed with Brooklyn after receiving relatively little interest on the free agent market.
Per the New York Post:
“From Russia with … nothing shady. That was the finding of a ‘thorough’ NBA investigation into the Nets’ summer signing of free agent forward Andrei Kirilenko, multiple league sources told The Post. The league, after getting complaints from at least one other team that suggested improper agreements, examined the signing and found nothing against the rules. Kirilenko, who made roughly $10 million in Minnesota last season, opted out of the final year of his Timberwolves’ deal and took the Nets’ $3.1 mini-midlevel exception. In doing so, he triggered a wave of anger and suspicion. Rivals owners and executives intimated under-the-table deals existed between Kirilenko and Russian countryman Mikhail Prokhorov, the Nets’ billionaire owner. At least one owner – possibly more – complained to the league. ‘When there is a formal complaint, the league will look into it,’ said one league official who spoke in generalities and refused comment on the Kirilenko issue. The league launched its investigation, questioning participants. Nets officials were summoned — at one point on a weekend, usually a time off in the summer for league execs. ‘It was a very, very thorough investigation,’ one source maintained. ‘They checked everything.’”