Kirilenko back to Utah?


Top 20 NBA free agents the Utah Jazz should target in the 2012 offseason


I guess if Raja Bell and Blue Edwards could come home, so could Andrei Kirilenko.

But I doubt it.

The former Jazz forward was quoted this week by Reuters, saying that returning to Utah is an option. His first option among NBA teams.

Deseret News photo

This season he played in Russia for CSKA.

“I have a huge history with the Utah Jazz and they are a priority for me among the 30 teams competing in the NBA, while CSKA are just as close to my heart in Europe and when the Final Four is over I will weigh my options and make a decision,” he said.

While Kirilenko brought unusual skills to the Jazz, he also brought frustration. His game was inconsistent and he feuded with Jerry Sloan over playing time as he bounced in and out of the starting lineup. By the time he left after last season, it seemed his run was over.

Now he’s talking about possibly coming back. On the positive side, he’s a good citizen and a known commodity. On the down side, he’s 31 and losing some of the skills that helped him fill up box scores. But with C.J. Miles likely leaving as a free agent, could the Jazz use A.K.?

What makes this interesting is that he once offered to refund the Jazz their money if they didn’t like how he had played. It’s possible he would play in Utah for far less than the $17 million he made with the Jazz. He and his wife often said they liked raising their kids in Salt Lake.

The Jazz certainly don’t need him for $17 million but what about $1 million or $2 million?

With his best days behind him, and Gordon Hayward able to play both forward and guard, and DeMarre Carroll set to re-sign, and Jeremy Evans waiting to soar, the A.K. scenario isn’t likely to take flight.

Even if he does want to return to Utah, it’s out of his hands. The Jazz would have to extend an invitation.

As the A.K. used to say with a shrug, “What I can do?”

[poll id=”34″]


  1. Rob

    There was nothing really wrong with AK other than the Jazz organization chose to over pay him for ultimately what turned out to be his later role with the team.

    There were multiple other NBA teams lined up to pay AK what he got from the Jazz and few if any questioned it at the time. Of course they are all GM geniuses now in hindsight. At the time, he was the go-to guy and he filled up the box scores nightly. Then the Jazz signed some other players and ask AK to NOT be “the guy” and everything went to Boozer on the block.

    How is this any of AK’s fault? When you put the ball in AK’s hands he is still a very capable player (great decision maker and makes his team mates better) at both ends of the court and he would be a fabulous player to tutor Hayward who hopefully develops a similar skillset.

    Paying AK a reasonable salary I would love to have him back. He would not be expected to play loads of minutes and as such perhaps his durability would improve. Sure he gets injured sometimes but lots of NBA players do but he might be fine in reduced role.

    Used properly, AK can be alot better than his stats during his final year or two here showed.

    • Steve

      Rob, I couldn’t have said it better. I echo your comments. I think A.K. could help the Jazz and I would love to have him back.

  2. Capsaicin

    AK needs to be paid about a 10th or less of what he was being paid. He was good the year before he started getting paid too much. He was paid to block. Never was very good at shooting or blocking so why bring an old man back to the game. Let him stay in Russia like he was always talking about going back to.

  3. Todd

    I think AK is an interesting prospect. He doesn’t solve any of our offensive problems, but AK is a very nice defensive piece. He and Favors with Hayward and a scrappy PG make a great defensive squad. AK is a good passer and can be crafty offensively, so in the situation where Hayward starts hitting his shots/getting into the paint and finishing or Harris (or another PG) becomes a scorer maybe he’d fit.

    The thing about AK is that he stopped playing hard every night. Former assistant coach Phil Johnson has said this in radio interviews since his retirment. Still, I honestly think that with Deron and Boozer gone (It might also help that Jerry is gone), AK could find a home here. He would absolutely be an asset off of the bench.

    I miss AK’s voice over the jumbotron in the 4th quarter of home games: “MAKE SOME NOISES!!” classic.

  4. Rob

    It’s not A.K.’s fault that the Jazz overpaid him. His best year was right before they brought in Boozer and Williams to run the pick and roll. When they were running that funky 2 guard offense Sloan used after Stockton and Malone, A.K. killed it. He was more a victim of his circumstances than anything else. Most of all, I suppose he was too good a guy, and felt guilty making that money and not contributing. He always wanted to do more, but the system wasn’t a good fit for him. If the Jazz can bring him back, they should do so.

  5. Osgrath

    I agree that Andrei has a lot to offer to the Jazz – especially defensively, but with the right teammates, offensively, as well. To allay Capsaicin’s fears, he would be playing for a tenth of his max contract amount. At this time, especially living in Russia, money is not an issue for him. He wants to come here because he likes to live and play here.

    He is not perfect, but with the current crew, we can’t say that he would pick up on any slacker mentality (Boozer). The current group may not be the most talented team in the league, but they work hard – in that kind of environment I can see AK contributing well.

  6. Orlandojazzfan

    Did Rock even attempt to reaserch this article? AK was the MVP of this league this year. It’s not the NBA but obviously he still has skills. 4-5 million and a two year (team option third) – I think we sign him. At least we get defense (Something that totally eludes Miles)

Leave a comment encourages a civil dialogue among its readers. We welcome your thoughtful comments.