Andrei Kirilenko sounded off on his decision to opt out of his contract in Minnesota. Bottom lines:
- AK thinks he has gas left in the tank
- He isn’t averse to returning to Minnesota
- But he wants a longer contract – at least a three-year deal
Anyway, choice quotes below the fold:
Q: It felt like you liked everything in Minnesota. Then why didn’t you pick up your contract option for the next season?
AK: It didn’t make sense to me. Next year the situation would be the same, and it is uncomfortable for me and my entire family to feel this uncertainty. For all my close ones to keep on thinking, “Do we have to relocate after the season ends?”. So it was a strategic decision. I want to sign a longer contract. And it doesn’t mean that I’m definitely leaving Minnesota – at all. A really do like everything here. Everything but the length of my contract.
Q: How long do you want it to be? Three or four seasons?
AK: (Laughs). I prefer it to be for more than one. I am sure that I’ll be able to play at high level for at least three more seasons. After that, maybe I will have to consider signing for a veteran minimum. But it is impossible to say what is going to happen after three years. After all, I used to think that I would retire at 30. But right now I’m already 32, and I am still full of energy and desire to play.
Q: Does your decision have anything to do with the desire to play for a better team which is a title contender, unlike Minnesota?
AK: Of course it is always better to play for a good team. But for me, the atmosphere inside a club has a great importance. The team environment in Minnesota is remarkable. I am really lucky in terms of this. And the current roster, I am sure, can do much better than last season when we lost our chances of making the playoffs early.
Q: When was the first time that you thought that maybe you shouldn’t pick up your option with Minnesota?
AK: Not that long ago. And anyway it’s just part of the process. They way media presented it is just laughable – as if I terminated my contract with the club and left! It is nothing like that. It was never in my plans to move back and forth between cities. On the contrary, right now I am extremely interested in a more stable situation. That was the reason for my decision. After all, my kids are going to enter school, and it is better to plan things like this beforehand.
Q: So your priority is to sign a multi-year deal with Minnesota?
AK: Not exactly like this. To tell the truth, I don’t want to fill my head with all this right now – I’m on vacation. My agent Marc Fleisher takes care of all my business. We are working together for 15 years already and never had any trouble with each other. Normally Marc would collect all the necessary information and present the possible moves to me. Right now I can only tell this – I am still a Minnesota player. I like everything about the club – the city, the teammates, and the organization. The only disappointing thing is last season’s result.
Methinks the chances of seeing AK in a Wolves uniform next year aren’t good.
Go read the rest over at Alexander Chernykh’s excellent Rush’n Hoops.