Andrei Kirilenko: I wish Mikhail good luck

Mikhail Prokhorov is one of the richest people in Russia, but even his fat wallet couldn't cover fellow countryman Andrei Kirilenko coming to Brooklyn.

During the offseason, Prokhorov pursued Kirilenko, but to no avail. The biggest reason was likely because the Nets could only offer the forward the veteran's minimum, while the Timberwolves were able to pay him $20 million over two years.

On Friday, Kirilenko spoke to ESPNNewYork.com about his relationship with Prokhorov, but he wouldn't comment on any of the negotiations.

"Those questions I'm not going to answer because I'm a Minnesota Timberwolf right now," he said. "There's no problem with it, but I don't think it's correct when you're talking about the different teams, because when you do, they have a player at your same position. I don't think it's going to be a good idea when you talk about the team because the player who plays your position will think, 'Oh, they wanted to bring Andrei instead.' I don't think it's a good idea."

Kirilenko, 31, played for the Utah Jazz for 10 seasons and was an All-Star in 2004. He considered not even returning to the states after playing for the CSKA Moscow basketball club during the lockout, and even when the NBA had its shortened season.

"Last summer was the lockout, which gave me a great chance to play in Russia in front of Russian fans," he said. "When the lockout was over, I was thinking that because of the Olympics, I wanted to stay more in Russia and play with my Russian teammates. I always thought that I would finish my career in Russia. I always thought about that if I didn't get back to the NBA and play at the highest level, I would continue to play in Russia, only because of the lockout season."

Kirilenko said that he and Prokhorov "are not close," but they were in touch more when the veteran forward played for CSKA Moscow from 1998 to 2001.

"He was my employer," Kirilenko said.

Kirilenko said that it's exciting that Brooklyn, with its dense Russian population, has basketball in its own backyard, and he hopes things work out for Prokhorov -- but not when his team comes to town.

"I want to say is I'm wishing him good luck, but not when the Nets play against us," he said. "He's doing great things and he's the first Russian owner in the NBA. I think it's great for Russian basketball because Russian players are going to have feelings that somebody from the NBA owns a team, and one day he might give them a fair chance to play there. It's a great platform for the Russian fans."

During the summer, Kirilenko led Russia to its first medal (bronze) in Olympic basketball. Then in September, he teamed up with Nets guard MarShon Brooks and a couple of other NBA players to participate in the NBA's first Basketball Without Borders program in the country.

"It's very, very important for the Russians when we have a program such as Basketball Without Borders," he said. "With my foundation, I used to put on clinics for the kids, but it's really good as well when you have NBA players, NBA coaches and they show the experience. They're sacrificing their time for the young generation, and I think it goes a long way.

"If you take a look back, more than 20 players went from the program to the NBA. That's a big number. Every Basketball Without Borders, you have two potential NBA players. You have more and more talented guys joining the league."

The Timberwolves travel to Brooklyn for the first time on Nov. 5, and the game will be broadcast on NBA TV.

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