Report: Minnesota Targeting Andrei Kirilenko

Brooklyn may have missed out on the big prize this summer, but they’ve reloaded by re-signing Deron Williams, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez, as well as adding Joe Johnson. On first glance, they’re paying $52.5 million dollars next year just for the privilege of bringing back four-fifths of the starting lineup for a team that went 22-44 last season. On the other, even Jordan Crawford has to admit this might be the best backcourt in the NBA, and if Lopez is healthy, he will be only moderately soft inside instead of glaringly soft. That’s a big jump. But there is one interesting free agent out there who could be a perfect it for them. The only problem is Minnesota is going after him harder.

Andrei Kirilenko has decided to get back into the NBA after spending last season playing for CSKA Moscow. The Nets have a viable international presence, thanks to the attraction of New York City, as well as a Russian owner who, as Deron Williams said during the World Basketball Festival, “”If the owner doesn’t really mind [spending money], then I guess it doesn’t matter. It’s not me spending the money. If they’re not worried about it, then I’m not.”

Brooklyn was thought to be AK-47’s first choice. But instead, it’s the Timberwolves who are making a play for the veteran small forward. ESPN reports a three-team deal has emerged that’ll provide enough cap relief for Minnesota to sign the former fantasy beast. Phoenix would trade Robin Lopez and Hakim Warrick, two solid frontcourt rotational players, to the Hornets. The Suns would get back Wes Johnson and a future first rounder from the Wolves, while New Orleans would move along Brad Miller‘s corpse to Phoenix. It’s still unclear what Minnesota would get out of all this.

But, as we wrote in Smack this morning, a potential starting lineup of Ricky Rubio, Brandon Roy, AK-47, Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic looks like a legit five for the playoffs. Of course, Rubio is coming off major knee surgery, Roy has worse knees than Bran Stark, and lastly, no one knows if Kirilenko even wants to go to Minnesota. He could choose familiarity, and follow his old teammate (Williams) to Brooklyn instead. Yet, the Wolves do offer a starting job and a ton of playing time; last season, they had a carousal of players rotating in at the three. Now, Michael Beasley is gone, Wes Johnson could soon be as well, and Derrick Williams hasn’t yet lived up to the hype. A forward who is rangy, athletic and plays hard on-ball D could be just the recipe to pair with Love, a player who is none of that on the defensive end.

For his part, the 31-year-old Kirilenko wants to decide on his new team before the Olympics, which means a decision will probably be coming within the next 48 hours.

Would this move make them a playoff team?

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