MANKATO, Minn. — Andrei Kirilenko does not want to talk about the process that brought him to Minnesota. He said that once, last Friday, and he reiterated it Tuesday to a new crop of reporters from Mankato. It’s not fair to anyone, Kirilenko said, and he’s not going to spill the beans.
So that’s that.
However, the veteran forward did say Tuesday that the two-year, $20 million contract he signed with the Timberwolves was not the highest offer he got. But money wasn’t all that came into play for him, and he described the process of picking the Timberwolves as a puzzle. Some of the pieces: Kevin Love, whom he described as a superstar; Rick Adelman and his coaching style; the city and its size and even Alexey Shved, whom he said was “a little addition, like that little flavor.”
In fact, Kirilenko might be the first Timberwolves player ever to describe Adelman as beautiful. His summation of why he’s a Timberwolf:
“It’s a beautiful contract, beautiful coach.”
Injury report: Swingman Chase Budinger sat out the end of practice Tuesday with a hamstring issue. He didn’t pull it, but it’s been nagging at him for a while, and in the course of the four-hour practice, it flared up. It shouldn’t be a long-term problem.
Backup center Greg Stiemsma, who will be limited at training camp with foot issues, played well. Adelman said that his timing wasn’t there, but he just wants to see how the center recovers.
Other than those two and point guard Ricky Rubio, the rest of the team was at full strength.
Playing time for Shved: Since the Timberwolves signed Alexey Shved in July, there has been much speculation about his role this season. In the initial conference call to discuss the signing, president of basketball operations David Kahn cautioned that Shved might not have an immediate impact, but early indications are that he could.
Yes, Shved is thin, but he’s also taller than Adelman expected, and he’s not getting manhandled on the court. He looked good in 5-on-5 on Tuesday, playing smoothly and quickly.
“I just don’t see him getting pushed around,” Adelman said. “I said before, the thing that will be the biggest adjustment is at the defensive end. He’s just going to have guys coming at him all the time, and that’s where he’s going to make his adjustment. He’s going to get better offensively because he has skills.”
Kirilenko also discussed his teammate’s strengths:
“He’s a young, talented guy who can really run and bring you a lot of energy on the floor. He’s not afraid to take a shot in the crunch moment, which is needed on every team in the NBA. He’s young, with the potential to keep growing.”
Kirilenko on international vs. NBA basketball: Much has been made of the Timberwolves’ international presence this year, and Kirilenko did a good job of describing how the style of ball that he grew up playing can pair with the NBA game. To him, the two styles are mutually beneficial.
“You know why I like European basketball, because there’s a lot of tactic involved,” Kirilenko said. “I know NBA, it’s an individual game prevails. People like to play one-on-one. People like the athletic style of the basketball, but if you can combine athleticism and the tactics, I think you can have a great product. If the athletic guys can start playing good team defense . . . it’s going to be impossible to beat. I think we can do it. Rick, that kind of coach, can really bring it.”