This is what Andrei Kirilenko would like to think, at least. Because a team in Spain just turned down his request to play for it for a smidge over the NBA's average salary.
The former do-it-all Jazz forward and current free agent can't really ply his free-agent trade with any NBA teams this month, due to said NBA teams locking out their players. And though Kirilenko isn't exactly hard up for cash, he is a 30-year-old do-it-all forward that is in his athletic prime that wants to play basketball in a few months. And, according to most estimates, he won't be able to do as such in the NBA this fall. Or even early winter. Bugger.
So why not play for the famed Real Madrid club, out of Spain? Good idea, AK. Too bad Real Madrid doesn't want to play ball, or whatever terrible negotiating euphemisims they use over there.
Kirilenko has talked about playing in Russia, his homeland, or for teams in Europe.
According to Marca.com, Kirilenko recently approached Spanish League power Real Madrid about a contract, but the club balked over his $5.8 million salary request.
Andrei made over $17.8 million last season with the Jazz, in the final year of a six-year, $86 million deal. And that $5.8 million marker is just a couple hundred thousand quid over what the NBA's average salary is, a note that is used to define the league's former "mid-level exception" clause that allowed teams to go over the salary cap to sign players to a five-year deal at the league's average salary.
This is hardly the point, though. Kirilenko was once the talk of the NBA, as his versatile gifts allowed for him to contribute in innumerable ways, along with additions easily counted by the box score. But he's also missed an average of 18 games a season since his hyped heyday of 2004-05, and his continued tweener status both frustrated Utah fans and the team's coaching staff.
Real Madrid, clearly, understands the confusion. And though Kirilenko would easily be worth that $5.8 million should the NBA play this fall, you can understand why even the most well-heeled of international teams might give him a miss.