Sixers put out APB on absent ‘AK-47’

The Dude of “The Big Lebowski” fame knew how to make a white Russian disappear, but that offers no help as far as the Philadelphia 76ers are concerned in their desire to have veteran NBA forward Andrei Kirilenko report for duty.

Kirilenko, acquired by the Sixers on Dec. 11, has been on leave for “personal reasons” reportedly related to a family member’s medical situation. But the team’s intent in swinging the deal with the Brooklyn Nets was that the 33-year-old would join their squad, work his way into the rotation and play well enough that he might attract some bids from contending teams prior to the league’s February trading deadline.

So at some point, Kirilenko is going to be AWOL. For now, Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Bob Ford just had some fun in putting out an APB on AK-47. Because, after all, one has to take fun where one finds it around the Sixers these days:

I am looking for Andrei Kirilenko, but he is hard to find. This should not be the case because Kirilenko is a 6-foot-9 Russian. He should either be on a basketball court or in a James Bond movie. I have searched the basketball courts and movie theaters. No Kirilenko.

The 76ers are not helping at all. They traded for Kirilenko this month and I see his smiling face on the roster page of their website. The blue and red of the team colors have been drawn onto the uniform top he is wearing in the photo. Kirilenko is number 47, as he has always been during his 13 seasons in the NBA. That’s part of his “AK-47” nickname, which someone came up with in reference to the Kalashnikov rifle, although at this point of his career Kirilenko isn’t even a pop gun.

This season, he played 37 minutes spread over seven games for the Nets, took five shots from the field and didn’t make any of them. Brooklyn coach Lionel Hollins had no further use for him and general manager Billy King, whose team is trying to get out of luxury tax jail, looked desperately for someone to take Kirilenko’s $3,326,235 salary off his books. Hello, Sixers.

The nuts-and-bolts of the situation are getting a little dicey, however, given the loggerheads at which the brief relationship between the player and his new team appears to be. As Yahoo! Sports reported Tuesday:

For now, Kirilenko and his representatives are resisting the Sixers’ overtures, preferring the organization waive Kirilenko and let him become a free agent, sources said.

After Philadelphia and the Brooklyn Nets completed a trade for Kirilenko on Dec. 11, Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie has repeatedly expressed to Kirilenko’s camp that there are no immediate plans to cut him loose, league sources said.

Kirilenko, 33, wants the balance of the $3.3 million owed to him this season, and ultimately the freedom to sign elsewhere on a new deal this season, sources said. So far, he’s been unwilling to join the rebuilding Sixers, but eventually could be mandated to report to the team to collect on his contract.

Seeing has how Kirilenko cost himself serious money in the NBA marketplace prior to 2013-14 – when he turned down a $10 million player option with Minnesota to sign with the Mikhail Prokhorov-owned Nets on a two-year, $7.4 million deal – this could be about the dough. As in, Kirilenko might not be willing to negotiate down for a buyout, considering what he’s lost already on his Brooklyn gamble.

It’s hard to know what Kirilenko has left. He didn’t play for the Nets for a month before the trade, appearing in just seven of their first 20 games, so he pretty much has maintained his pace with the Sixers (0-for-5 possible games).

There’s always the possibility that the trade came at a particularly bad time, synching up unknowingly with the one time a year his wife Masha Lopatova allows him to stray beyond the vows of their marriage. Still, even if she lets him test the waters of personal free-agency, Kirilenko won’t have that freedom from Philadelphia until next summer.

15 Comments

  1. pokie says:

    AK is just another chit in Sam Hinkie’s sloppily improvised “grand rebuilding scheme”. At current this franchise has absolutely zero concern for any individual player, their careers, their families, not to mention the long suffering fans of Philadelphia, or any concept of sportsmanship. Leave the big Russian and his family out of it.

  2. MrNBA says:

    Reminds me of that bag of (bleep) Fisher when he was traded to Houston some years ago. He didn’t even report to the team! There should be some serious sanctions (no pay/suspension) to players who do nonsensical things like these.

  3. Amurruman says:

    Kind of reminds me of Alonzo Mourning and the Raptors years ago, the Raptors gave in and Alonzo went on to get his ring elsewhere, everyone conveniently forgot that he had a contractual obligation to play for the Raptors. It’s disgusting behaviour that only exists in professional sports, I hope the Sixers find a way to not pay him anything, and contending teams see him for the bad apple he is

  4. Euroballer says:

    Such a biased article.

    Kirilenko isn’t playing for the 76ers due to the fact that his wife is in the middle of a complicated pregnancy, bedridden most of the time.

    He wasn’t showing up for the nets and he is not going to show up for the sixers obviously, not because they are on tanking mode but because he is on a family-related leave.

    And the last paragraph about AK47 cheating on his wife isn’t even related to basketball, and it’s well known that Kirilenko has never used his “right to cheat”.

    The author just made Kirilenko look like an incompetent and like an horrible human being, while all he’s done is leave his basketball career in order to take care of his family in such a bad time.

  5. trade AK to the grizzlies and they will be a contender

  6. harriethehawk says:

    Is that legal for him to do that? Don’t pay him! If I don’t show up for week, I don’t have a job….

  7. Ace says:

    Hey, would you as a basketballer and as a winner want to be on a team that is very openly applying a tanking strategy? I wouldn’t. Matter of fact, I would do exactly what AK is doing. A front office, a staff and a team that doesn’t seem to even try to win should be banned from the NBA. I have since 20 years not seen a team playing with less inspiration and motivation than the 76ers of this year. And don’t blame it on their age, they do have very athletic and talented players.

    • Ballers says:

      Ace, I understand what you mean. But it’s called being a professional. The least AK should do is report and if he doesn’t wanna play, then ask for a trade. It”s not like he doesn’t get paid. He gets millions!

  8. andydesuja1 says:

    nice

  9. ThundeRIng says:

    Hypothetically speaking…..
    76ers could pick up Josh Smith &
    Release ak47.
    Smith with all those young guys could be fun to watch for years to come

  10. Smooves says:

    FOO PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    No veteran is reporting to the 76ers lets be real, and none should have to

  11. mmmmmmm says:

    wow… I used to love AK-47, but he is just a disgrace to basketball this season… , (no more comment)

  12. slider821 says:

    So if 76ers wont waive him and he doesn’t report to the gym, what are the repercussions? Can 76ers say he doesn’t get to get paid because he didn’t report to duty? Couldn’t he get suspended without pay for being “detrimental to locker room” or whatever they want to call it in order to punish him? A dude shouldn’t be able to get paid $3.3m and just say ‘naw i don’t want to work’. At least that’s now how it works in the real world.

    • mmmmmmm says:

      yeah, i mean, hes getting paid a lot. You can’t just say I get paid if I work or don’t work. WHAT DROP FROM TEH 2012-13 season where he was great with the Wolves to this little cry baby on the rebuilding 76ers.