3:30 pm Jul. 26, 20121
It seemed too good to be true that Andrei Kirilenko, accomplished N.B.A. veteran and last season's Euroleague M.V.P., was considering signing for the veteran's minimum to be the fourteenth player on the Brooklyn Nets.
As it turned out, it was. Kirilenko agreed to a two-year, $20 million contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday, where he is expected to start.
N.B.A. teams have three currencies to offer free agents to entice them to sign. The first, naturally, is money. The Nets didn't have that, with their salaries already exceeding the salary cap. The second is playing time, and with Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries manning the forward spots, Kirilenko wasn't guaranteed anything close to starter minutes. The third is the chance to play for a championship, and frankly, that doesn't appear to have been much of a consideration for Kirilenko, since he signed in Minnesota.
But failing to add Kirilenko doesn't hurt the Nets much, since they have virtually the same player in Wallace.
When Kirilenko last played in the N.B.A. back in 2010-11, he posted a Player Efficency Rating of 16.6 as a 29-year-old. Wallace, at age 29 last year, put up a 15.9. They also managed nearly identical rebound, assist, block and turnover rates, so they got to the same level of play in almost precisely the same way. And whatever advantage Kirilenko had is probably erased by the fact that Kirilenko is a year older.
The deal also reveals that the Nets probably didn't overpay for Wallace at four years, $40 million, at least if the aim is to bring in an above-average small forward for his decline years. But the Nets are built to win now, so such concerns take a back seat.
The length of the deal is twice what Kirilenko got, at the same money. Wallace is a year younger, though. And the Nets couldn't have offered Kirilenko the same money they offered Wallace once they re-signed Deron Williams, traded for Joe Johnson and re-signed Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries. They had no way of knowing for certain that Kirilenko would come, and might have lost Wallace, an unrestricted free agent, in the meantime.