Andrei Kirilenko has been looked at a as a bit of a disappointment compared to his contract over the last couple of seasons, but the former Utah Jazz forward should still be a solid free agent acquisition this offseason. That is, of course, if the Russian-born player decides to return to play in the NBA.
Kirilenko began his career with CSKA Moscow in Russia prior to joining the Jazz for the 2001-02 season and, although he's played in the NBA ever since, Kirilenko returned to Moscow to play during the lockout. The 6-foot-9 forward helped lead his team to a 5-0 record to start the Euroleague season before brutally breaking his nose, averaging 13.8 points and nine rebounds in the elite league.
Even though the lockout is over, Kirilenko is apparently thinking about returning to CSKA once his nose heals in lieu of making an NBA comeback, according to an interview he did with the Deseret News.
Before Dec. 9th I will listen to offers from the NBA. I am happy in CSKA and it will be a tough decision. Utah Jazz is in my heart and is on the priority list. I will look at everything on the table. You know here in Russia my kids are in school, the team is great and I have been playing really well. It will be a difficult decision.
If Kirilenko does decide to return to the states, he'll no doubt be courted by several teams. He likely won't reach anything close to the $17 million-plus salary he commanded last season, however, so it'll be interesting what amount would make it worth uprooting his family.
SB Nation's Tom Ziller has done yeoman's work breaking down the top NBA free agents, by the way, if other players are of interest as well.