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Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Speak Russian? Neither Does Jerry Sloan


Andrei Kirilenko has apparently asked to be traded; a Russian-language tale that appears to have been written by Kirilenko himself was published yesterday on the website Sports.ru. Here it is in the original Russian. And here, with the kind of brilliant comedic timing you could not fabricate, is some of that same story as translated by Google:

For the week to come to the club, but if honest, special joy on this occasion did not have. Last season was disappointing for me and very seriously disappointed. Many thought about it and came to the decision - I want to leave the "Concept". European soccer ended was a peculiar litmus test, and it was all for me to their seats.

Coach Sloan is one of the reasons, but not the only one. Six of the NBA years, I, of course, has enormous experience. It is clear that the NBA-strongest league world. Every game makes you better as a player only because it is a challenge. Call for battle. Such conditions zakalyayut. All these words have been fair to me, except for the last two seasons. I now feel that progressiruyu not as a player. I try, but fails. 5 40NB. Do not give. Do not get support coach and the club. I am convinced that the methods Sloan had a negative impact on me. His main method of motivating players - care guilt. Our wages, our mistakes in the games, our actions outside the track is always cause for criticism. I want to play basketball, I want to enjoy it and not be a robot, piece of Sloan. Therefore, do not see their future in the team, "Utah Jazz."

Take that, you robot piece of Sloan.

Kirilenko (or someone posing as Kirilenko) also writes about how much he loved playing for David Blatt. He contrasts that experience with how much he does not enjoy playing for Sloan.

Ross Siler of the Salt Lake Tribune has enjoyed actual human translation, and wrote an informative story based on it. An excerpt:

Kirilenko also revealed that he talked to Kevin O'Connor, the Jazz's senior vice president of basketball operations, a few weeks ago and asked to be traded. O'Connor said Tuesday that he had spoken with Kirilenko but declined to comment on what was said.

"What you're trying to do is overall look at the success he's had with us,'' O'Connor said. "He has a long-term contract with us and I don't think we would have given him a contract like that if we weren't confident he'd be here."

Kirilenko is required to report for camp by Oct. 1 and O'Connor said, "We explained to him when everybody was supposed to be back and we expect him to be here."

The Jazz would face sizable obstacles in trying to trade Kirilenko, their highest-paid player owed $63 million through the 2010-11 season. They also face untold distractions as they open the season trying to build off a conference finals appearance.

Of his conversation with O'Connor, Kirilenko wrote, "I told him that I don't see myself in the team and want to leave." He added: "I don't want myself and my contract to be a burden for the club. I want the club to continue in its own direction."

But Kirilenko wrote that he hadn't heard back from O'Connor or the organization in a week, which he took as a sign of disrespect.

Plenty of people are not high on Kirilenko. I am not one of them. Back then the Blazers still had Zach Randolph, and it wasn't clear what they were going to do with him, I was keen on the idea that they might swap him for AK-47. Why? Of course, a big part of the reason is because Kirilenko plays hard all over the court, is long like a piece of spaghetti, and has a ton of skill. But mainly because he has an unbelievable knack for getting his hand where the ball is. He can strip you, he can block you, he can pick up the loose ball, he can grab the rebound. He can just get that ball better than most, and players like that are disheartening to play against. He is also willing to work hard to improve his shooting stroke, while being willing to be the team's third or fourth scoring option.

Let me share something with you about Andrei Kirilenko, the professional. Consider this account, from coach Dan Barto, of running Kirilenko's workouts last summer:

I had the pleasure of working with Andrei for a little over six weeks last summer. Upon meeting him he stated his goals for what he wanted to accomplish and why. In no uncertain terms he knew what was going to happen both with the Jazz this past season and with the Russian National Team this summer.

Stating "things (with the Jazz) are going to change for me because our team is going to win by pounding people off ball screens and defending. My opportunities are going to come in transition like always, spot ups and some isolation/mismatch. I will be the fourth option and I have to do what is best for my team."

He talked about his skill improvement and shooting both off of the catch and dribble "a couple years" process where he would probably fail numerous times to successfully implement them, but would eventually master them and increase the length of his career and value.

He stated that the summer of '06 was his first summer of not playing with the national team because he needed to rest. With the playoffs, international play and being an NBA starter, he would play more minutes than anyone in the world from October through next training camp. Also he talked about trying to get his body right since he dealt with so many injuries in the past. With the FIBA qualifiers and Olympics over the next two summers this would be his only chance to do that.

These were not ingenious concepts, but so few players are able to look at the scope of 12 months with such precision, honesty and hunger, let alone 3 years. Over the next six weeks Andrei would teach me so much about the international game, being a "professional" and how many different ways "dawg" could be used in the English language.

Utah fan and TrueHoop reader Doug emails to say:

For all of us Jazz fans who have been thinking it would be best if Kirilenko and the Jazz parted ways,it finally looks like its happening. But now that he has demanded a trade ... we'll get almost nothing for him. I wish the Jazz would have stepped up and gotten something done to get the Matrix; especially if its true that Andrei spoke with Kevin O'Connor privately about this two weeks ago before going public. Regardless whether Marion liked Utah or not, it was a much shorter term contract and would have allowed the Jazz to have a solid 3 during his remaining years.

Here is some Andrei Kirilenko information you have to see to understand.

What happens now? Will the Jazz move him? It takes two to tango, and it's no secret the Jazz are ready to dance. Even the owner has admitted as much. The Tribune's Ross Siler wrote this on his blog back in June:

In case you missed it, Andrei Kirilenko has a contract worth $63 million that makes him difficult, if not impossible, to trade. Larry Miller admitted as much Thursday on the radio. Yet Sloan and Miller have each taken their shots at Kirilenko this week -- a player who most
likely is going to wind up back with the Jazz next season.

Looking for one other team ... We have heard it might be the Suns, right? If they are really concerned that Shawn Marion might walk away for nothing when he can opt out next summer, perhaps they really would consider getting Kirilenko (who is cheaper per season, but has a hefty four years left). Any other ideas about what might work? Get trading.

UPDATE: Here's my proposal: Channing Frye, Jarrett Jack, and Raef LaFrentz for Andrei Kirilenko. In a year, the Jazz would presumably trade LaFrentz to someone looking to get under the cap -- so this would cut their total guaranteed out-of-pocket expenses by about $50 million, while not exactly making them worse. Portland gets a quality big man, and two roster spots to address their need for even more bigs. The downside is that Portland would be giving up super-valuable future cap room. (Cap room, a great city, and buddying up with Greg Oden, and a posse of young stars? That would lure a serious free agent.)