MOSCOW, July 12 (R-Sport) – Billionaire Brooklyn Nets basketball team owner Mikhail Prokhorov has lauded the capture of Andrei Kirilenko from the Minnesota Timberwolves, insisting his fellow Russian is "the strongest in the NBA" (National Basketball Association).
Kirilenko is yet to sign a deal to move to New York but has already agreed to a $3.1 million-a-year contract, according to the player and his agent.
"I'm overjoyed that Andrei has joined my team," said Prokhorov, who gave Kirilenko his big break in basketball when he owned CSKA Moscow.
"He started his main career with me when I was in charge of CSKA, and in three years he grew into a mega-talented player and a genuine leader of his team and his country," he told R-Sport.
"And now with the strongest Russian player in the NBA we will capture the title together," Prokhorov said.
League rules prevented Prokhorov from intervening in negotiations to tempt Kirilenko away from a reported $10 million offer to stay in Minnesota.
"Personally I haven't spoken to him. The NBA rules on that are very strict. Agents and the general manager hold talks," he said.
The contract is for two years, but Kirilenko has an option on the second year, the NBA reported.
He scored 12.4 points per game for Minnesota last season after returning from a year in Russia, as well as 2.8 assists and a career-high .507 field goal percentage.
The Russian player joined the NBA in 2001 with the Utah Jazz, where he played for a decade, reaching the playoffs six times and being named an All-Star in 2004.
Prokhorov bought the then New Jersey Nets in 2010 and relocated the team to Brooklyn, which has a large Russian population. He has previously said he wanted the team to develop Russian basketball talent, but Kirilenko is to be the first Russian the franchise has signed.