Andrei Kirilenko Wants to Play in Russia During NBA Lockout

AK-47 just has to wait until a Russian team is willing to pay him well enough to play for them (with an opt-out clause once the NBA season resumes.) Kirilenko says he’ll donate all the money he earns during the lockout to charitable causes. Reports the Deseret News: “Marc Fleisher, Kirilenko’s agent, continues to explore overseas options for Kirilenko, who maintains he’s only interested in playing in Russia for either powerhouse CSKA Moscow or Spartak St. Petersburg, where Kirilenko began his basketball career in the Russian League at 15 years old. Back then, he was the youngest player to compete in the league. Kirilenko, 30, has spent the last 10 years with the Utah Jazz and has been negotiating full-time with both CSKA Moscow and Spartak — a team that does not compete in the renowned Euroleague. ‘For sure, I’d love to play in front of Russian audience. I’m in good shape, and I think I could play for three or four years more. Of course, my priorities are CSKA and Spartak Saint Petersburg, where I’ve played before. I respect all (Russian League) clubs and am in good relationships with almost all the club’s bosses.’ The kicker: Kirilenko still desires an NBA-out contract with his deal. For this reason, negotiations are at a standstill with both teams. ‘They (CSKA Moscow) didn’t want to include an NBA-out in their offer, so we couldn’t agree on terms,’ Kirilenko said after Russian’s win over Macedonia. There was talk around EuroBasket that Kirilenko wanted $3 million a month (without taxes) from CSKA Moscow. Last season with the Jazz, Kirilenko earned $17 million for the season and looks poised to garnish more on the free-agent market. … As a spokesman for CSKA Moscow said regarding negotiations: ‘We haven’t quite figured out how to make this a positive for both sides. Our arena capacity (CSKA Universal Sports Hall) is only 5,000 so we can’t really rely on just ticket sales to fund a deal. We need other resources.’ That’s an area where Spartak may have the upper hand. Gazprom — a national Russian natural resources company — finances Spartak and has deep pockets to perhaps offer Kirilinko a lucrative deal, despite Kirilenko saying his decision to play in Russia is less about money and more about being close to his family. ‘Numbers in my contract do not matter for me. Furthermore I’ve made a decision — whatever I earn during the lockout I’ll spend on charity purposes,’ Kirilenko confessed. Kirilenko has said he wants to give the Jazz priority in free-agent negotiations, but his next career move depends if and when NBA owners and the players union can walk away from the negotiation table pleased with a new collective bargaining agreement.”