While the Golden State Warriors wait upon free agents Brandon Rush, Carl Landry, and Kenyon Martin, the team has also added another name onto their wish list. Despite playing for CSKA Moscow last season, former Utah Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko is considering a return to the NBA and is on the Warriors' wish list according to Marcus Thompson of Bay Area News Group (via league sources).
A versatile and defensive-minded 6-foot-9 forward, Kirilenko last played for the Jazz during the 2010-11 season. During the 2011 NBA lockout, he became one of the few big-name NBA players to leave the league and opted to sign a three-year deal with CSKA Moscow. During his 10-year NBA career, Kirilenko averaged 12.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, and 1.4 steals a game.
In the Warriors' search for a backup forward, Kirilenko would definitely fit their need. Known as a great shot blocker and excellent defender during his years with Utah, he would be an excellent fit for the Warriors, particularly on defense as a dominant help defender and athletic forward. Depending on how quickly rookie Harrison Barnes develops, Kirilenko could also be called upon to start at small forward in a pinch, a role he had during most of his NBA career.
More importantly, Kirilenko is also viewed as someone who could fit into the team's plans financially. At 31 years of age, he is viewed as someone who is in the latter stages of his career and could be had for a very reasonable price. However, while he might only command the veteran's minimum, which for him would be about $1.2 million, the Warriors are a dark horse in acquiring his services.
If Kirilenko does make a return to the NBA, which is no guarantee according to an interview with Gazeta.ru, the Brooklyn Nets would appear to be a front runner for his services. Friends with Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, Kirilenko would be joining a championship contender instead of a Warriors team who, although improved during the offseason, cannot be viewed as a lock for the playoffs. Given where he's at in his career and the success he had last season as the Euroleague MVP, it is difficult to envision an NBA return for Kirilenko unless he comes back to a winner, likely making it a decision between the Nets and CSKA Moscow.
While it may be wishful thinking to see Kirilenko in a Warriors uniform next season, general manager Bob Myers will likely try to send an offer his way to gauge his interest. After missing out on the likes of Brandon Roy, J.J. Hickson, Andre Miller, and Antawn Jamison this offseason, Myers will add Kirilenko's name to the wish list in hopes of potentially adding a former NBA All-Star to the roster.
Andrei Kirilenko reportedly on Golden State Warriors' wish list, Bay Area News Group
Andrei Kirilenko Career Stats, Yahoo! Sports
"Weak in the Olympics no", Gazeta.ru
2011-12 All-Euroleague First, Second teams announced, euroleague.net
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Austin is a lifelong resident of the Bay Area, lifelong basketball fan and Golden State Warriors supporter, and a Featured Contributor for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. Follow this contributor on Google+ and Twitter @_austinchang.
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