AK-47 Officially A Free Agent

Andrei Kirilenko

The Minnesota Timberwolves have yet another weighty decision to make as the free agency period begins in earnest on Monday, July 1.

What is that decision, you’re wondering? They have to decide as to whether they want to retain forward Andrei Kirilenko. He, according to The Associated Press, made the decision to become an unrestricted free agent by opting out of the final year of his contract. He was due $10 million for the 2013-14 season.

He rejuvenated his career somewhat while in Minnesota, averaging 12.4 PPG, 5.7 RPG and 1.5 SPG. Even with that, the T-Wolves acquired Shabazz Muhammad, the forward from UCLA, in a trade with the Utah Jazz Thursday night.

Minnesota also have Derrick Williams; however, he is more a power forward and there have been rumors about Williams possibly leaving Minnesota.

The team has some options available to them, including:

  • Negotiate a multi-year contract, but at a lower rate. Not sure how much money they can save by doing this, but they can at least retain Kirilenko for the short term.
  • Use the $10 million (assuming Kirilenko leaves) to keep restricted free agent center Nikola Pekovic. There is a market for Pekovic out there, so the question is whether Minnesota cares to match any outside offer for Pekovic.

Should Kirilenko depart, that would leave the T-Wolves with about $7 million to play with. Seeing that they shot poorly from beyond the arc, perhaps an investment in a 3-point specialist is in order.

And there’s several players who could fit that bill, including Kevin Martin, O.J. Mayo, Kyle Korver, J.J. Redick and several other free agents that are available. We’re talking $7 million, so one can assume that it’s a one-year deal with that amount of money involved.

But back to Kirilenko.

If Minnesota opts to let him go, they’ll lose a player who brings energy, defensive toughness and a fair amount of offense to whichever team decides to sign him. Granted, he is 32 years old, but that seems to be a non-issue in this instance.

I’d love to be the fly on the wall when the Timberwolves executives make a final decision on Kirilenko. My hunches tell me that the T-wolves, as is their custom, will let another quality player bolt the team for greener pastures (Does Kevin Garnett ring a bell?).

But to be fair here, David Kahn no longer works for the franchise and Flip Saunders is in charge. So perhaps there is some hope in the Twin Cities.

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