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Sunday, May 20, 2018

NBA execs wonder if Mikhail Prokhorov, Andrei Kirilenko have side deal

Mikhail Prokhorov NetsMany people were in disbelief about Andrei Kirilenko’s deal with the Brooklyn Nets from the moment terms of the agreement were reported on Thursday.

Kirilenko, who declined a $10.2 million option to remain with the Minnesota Timberwolves, agreed to a one-year contract with the Nets for the mini mid-level exception of $3.1 million. Though the market for him may not have been strong, many viewed the deal as a discount.

Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reports that he heard from several NBA executives who were highly suspicious of the deal and calling for an investigation. One Western Conference GM called the deal “brazen”; an owner said the league might have to punish the Nets if there’s a side deal; and an Eastern Conference GM called for a probe.

The San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder reportedly were interested in acquiring Kirilenko via sign-and-trade deals, but Minnesota was not accommodating. The market for AK47, who was reportedly seeking a multi-year deal for at least $8 million annually, dried up. It makes sense that Kirilenko would settle for less than $10 million per season — we even saw Monta Ellis settle for less than he wanted on his contract with the Dallas Mavericks — but not 70 percent less.

Sure, reuniting with former Utah Jazz teammate Deron Williams may have been appealing to Kirilenko, but the Russian baller has a history with Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov. He played for Prokhorov’s CSKA Moscow team in Russia in the past. Is it possible that Prokhorov is paying Kirilenko on the side in order to make up for the small salary? Let’s just say there is good reason for the suspicion.

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