Kirilenko: ‘I really feel like I belong here’
New Timberwolves forward Andrei Kirilenko is back in the NBA after a season away and apparently feeling like he is back home, even though he spent his first decade in the league in Utah, not Minnesota.
“I really feel like I belong here,” he said.
He is the savvy veteran signed to a two-year, $20 million contract who gives the Wolves, even at age 31, perhaps their most versatile defender and has played the game all his life just the way Rick Adelman has lived to coach it, with motion and selflessness.
In Kirilenko, he has a proven, willing practitioner of such things who also — at 6-9 and springy — can play both forward spots.
“He knows exactly who he is,” Adelman said. “He has been doing this so long. Just watching him, I can’t tell you how many times he has back-cut our guys and they still can’t tell what he is going to do the next time and they still haven’t figured it out. But he’s so quick and he’s smart and he’s long and he just plays. He doesn’t take plays off.”
Kirilenko will play his first game in a Timberwolves uniform in Wednesday’s preseason opener, a meeting with Indiana at North Dakota’s Fargodome in which he, Love and Brandon Roy are all expected to play measured minutes while Adelman will give more playing time and opportunity to less-proven players such as Derrick Williams, Alexey Shved and Chase Budinger.
“It feels right,” Kirilenko said. “I’m not having any problems getting along with the guys, everybody is being so helpful. Kevin’s doing a great job as the face of this team, being friendly but at the same time showing good example for everybody. It’s the right place for me.”