By Ian Parfrey @Ianparfrey
Even though their summer league team hasn’t managed to win a game yet, the Nets are definitely winning the free agent period.
Today they signed 32-year old All-Star forward Andrei Kirilenko to a deal believed to be worth $6 million over the next 2 seasons, with the second season being a player option.
Kirilenko averaged 12.4 points and 5.7 rebounds in 64 games with the Minnesota Timberwolves last year, and declined a player option worth $10 million, to sign with the Nets for far less.
He’s best known for his defensive prowess, but Kirilenko has a broad range of skills. He spent the first ten seasons of his career with the Utah Jazz, where he was a teammate of Deron Williams. Kirilenko also played for Mikhail Prokhorov on CSKA Moscow before coming to the NBA.
The addition of Kirilenko should make a tremendous difference for the Nets. While he’s a few seasons past his peak, Kirilenko will be the Nets’ best one-on-one defender (besides Kevin Garnett) by far. Jason Kidd can use him to frustrate high-scoring forwards like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, and Kirilenko can ease some of the workload for Paul Pierce and Joe Johnson. It’s an added bonus that Kirilenko agreed to play for far below his market value.
The Nets have indeed become an attractive destination for free agents. The Miami Heat have been able to sign key role players like Shane Battier and Ray Allen to mid-level exception contracts, and the Nets now have their own bargain bench stud.
2014 looks like it’s going to be a historically great season for this franchise.