Kirilenko, AKA AK-47, comes under fire from Jazz owner
The man they call “AK-47” was under fire recently. From his owner.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Utah’s Andrei Kirilenko drew the ire of Jazz owner Larry Miller during an appearance on Utah radio station 1280-AM earlier this week.
The versatile Kirilenko is coming off his worst season as a pro, which included career lows in points (8.3) and rebounds (4.7) per game. He also had an emotional breakdown during the first round of the playoffs against Houston and complained about Head Coach Jerry Sloan and point guard Deron Williams on a Russian Web site.
Miller didn’t take kindly to that.
“Some of the stuff that’s coming out of his mouth reflects at least severe frustration and maybe brain fade, OK,” Miller said. “... I think he thought the Iron Curtain was still up and it blocked electronic communication.”
How do you say, “Ouch,” in Russian?
Kirilenko, a 6-foot-9 forward with freakishly long arms, averaged career-highs of 16.5 points and 8.1 rebounds in the 2003-04 season and was named an All Star.
Miller told a story about a conversation he had with Donnie Nelson during Kirilenko’s All-Star season. Nelson, who was an assistant for his dad at the time with the Mavericks, offered Miller any player on the Mavericks — that would have included Dirk Nowitzki — plus draft picks for Kirilenko.
“When that happened with Donnie Nelson, I said, ‘He’s untradeable,’” Miller said. “Today, I won’t say that.”
Unfortunately, today, Kirilenko’s contract makes him almost untradeable. Kirilenko is owed $63 million through the 2010-11 season.
CAN’T GO WRONG
Most observers still expect Portland to take Ohio State 7-footer Greg Oden with the No. 1 pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft even after his so-so workout last week. But Texas’ Kevin Durant isn’t making the decision any easier.
“That was as impressive a workout as any I’ve seen in here,” Blazers General Manager Kevin Pritchard told the Associated Press after the 6-10 Durant visited Portland on Friday.
“Sometimes God creates you to do certain things, and he was put here to play basketball,” Portland coach Nate McMillan said in The Oregonian.
Durant is scheduled to be in Seattle today. The Sonics hold the No. 2 pick.
The Portland decisionmakers gushed over Oden as well when he was in town Wednesday, so it’s difficult to tell what are just smokescreens. One thing is for sure. The easy-going Oden, who just signed an endorsement deal with Nike, isn’t too concerned.
“My competitiveness is about winning,” Oden told the Seattle times. “All that other stuff doesn’t matter. You can cut me in line, I don’t care. I’m still going to get my food.”
Checkout Oden’s personal blog at www.yardbarker.com/users/gregoden
According to The Oklahoman, Texas A&M’s Acie Law canceled his Friday workout with the New Orleans Hornets a day after working out for Atlanta.
Did the Hawks make Law a promise? Atlanta has two lottery picks (Nos. 3 and 11) and an on-going need for a point guard. Daniel Gibson canceled all his workouts after showcasing himself for Cleveland last year. The Cavaliers eventually picked him in the second round.
Ohio State’s Mike Conley Jr., regarded as the draft’s top point guard, is scheduled to workout for Atlanta on Monday. Where Conley goes could impact the Cavs, who have no picks in this year’s draft. The Kings reportedly will take the quick lefty if he falls to them at No. 10. That would most likely expedite veteran Mike Bibby’s departure from Sacramento. There are several rumors linking the Cavs and Bibby.
Reach Canton Repository sports writer Josh Weir at (330) 580-8426 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org