The Nets wanted Andrei Kirilenko.
Problem was, they had only the veteran’s minimum to spend.
So Kirilenko wound up signing a two-year, $20 million free-agent contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves in the offseason.
Nets point guard Deron Williams, Kirilenko's ex-teammate in Utah, said Monday that he tried to recruit AK-47.
“We just didn’t have enough money,” Williams said. “That’s not a secret.”
Kirilenko, 31, played for CSKA Moscow, which was formerly owned by Mikhail Prokhorov, from 1998 to 2001. Through two games this season, he’s averaging 13.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and four assists for the Timberwolves.
“He definitely was on our list,” Nets coach Avery Johnson said. “That guy with a skill set like that. I’ve always been a fan: He plays hard; he plays defense; he dives on the floor; he blocks shots; he goes backdoor; he’s improved his shot. When he was in Utah, I thought he was awfully good when he was healthy, so there was some discussion.”
But the Nets aren’t about to look past Minnesota.
“I think a lot of times when teams are missing their best players, they actually come out and play their best basketball, because guys know they have to step up, and really they have nothing to lose,” D-Will said. “They still have capable players on that roster, so we can’t overlook them because they’re missing a couple guys.”
In Williams’ first two seasons with the Nets, they couldn’t look past anyone.
“Yeah, it feels a lot better,” D-Will said when asked about that. “But we’ve only won one game, so we haven’t done much. We could play a lot better than we did against Toronto, and that’s what we’ll look to do tonight.”
• The Nets allowed the Raptors to shoot 62.5 percent and score 35 points in the first quarter.
Johnson wasn’t pleased.
“We almost blew up the defensive rating in the first quarter,” Johnson joked. “When I showed them the number, at first they thought I was being mean, but I backed it up with video to show them what I was talking about.
“It improved significantly in the second quarter and throughout the rest of the game, but like I said, [if we play] the defense we played in the first quarter, we aren’t going to be able to beat any teams in this league.”
So how do they fix it?
“We gotta come out with more energy -- especially on the defensive end,” D-Will said. “There’s really no excuses for slow starts. It’s a problem we had last year, and we don’t want to get into those same habits, because a first quarter could determine a game.”
• Deron Williams is one of the lone New Yorkers who went undefeated over the weekend.
Not only did his Nets beat the Raptors, but his Steelers also squeaked by the Giants.
D-Will was in attendance at MetLife, sporting a Troy Polamalu jersey in his luxury box.
“It’s a good win for us, I was happy about that. I like it,” he said.
“The old man is taking off his expensive suit and he’s going to dress tonight,” Johnson said.