Last Friday evening, Kings play-by-play man and local radio host Grant Napear said the Kings had made a substantial offer to a “big name” player who wasn’t a guard. The general consensus was that the Kings were either making an offer to Grizzlies restricted center Marc Gasol, former King Peja Stojakovic or the Utah Jazz’s Andrei Kirilenko – and according to a variety of sources, they’d have been right as ESPN’s Chad Ford reported that the Kings were indeed interested in AK-47.
Ford reports (via ESPN Insider) that Kirilenko is currently in the market for a 3 year, $26 million dollar deal (down from 4/$40) – a deal that may seem excessive to some, including myself.
Granted, the Kings are going to have competition for Andrei’s services as it’s been reported that he has interest in over 15 teams which include the New Jersey Nets and Utah Jazz, two situations that may hold more appeal from a non-monetary view point – so overpaying may be the Kings only opportunity to snag the Russian forward.
As to his fit in Sacramento – it’s difficult not to like the appeal. No, it’s not the marquee player that so many desire, but Kirilenko is a fantastic complimentary piece who again, like that of Hayes, can be extremely effective without the ball in his hand – something the Kings need. The signing would move John Salmons to the bench, improving both the starting lineup and the pine, allowing both rotations to be very well rounded:
Evans/Thornton/Kirilenko/Hayes/Cousins and Fredette/Garcia/Salmons/Hickson/Thompson
The lovely thing about both of those units is the influx of both offensive and defensive minded players. You’re not stuck with a rotation (or two) which is full of only offensive minded players which you could be in other scenarios – so not only does the Kirilenko addition make the Kings starting five better, it makes the Kings bench that much better by moving Salmons down in the rotation.
Financially, 3 years at $26 million is still pricey for me – but as I said, convincing AK-47 to come to Sacramento might cost the Kings an extra few million dollars and at any time, the Kings will still have the ability to move on from John Salmons (or any other player signed before this current CBA) using the amnesty clause if they so desired.
The price point is the stickler for both myself and most likely the Kings, but if they can get the number dropped from his desired 3 year, $26 million dollar price tag – it’s difficult to not like the thought of AK-47 in purple and black.