In an article rating remaining free agents (ESPN Insider required), Kevin Pelton states that he believes the Cavaliers and Kings have the best shot at Andrei Kirilenko, giving the edge to Sacramento in his final prediction.
The blurb is pure speculation, but Kirilenko could be a great fit to Pete D'alessandro's parameters regarding both the small forward position and the team in general- AK offers tenacious defense and passing, just as requested. He tied for first in Defensive Win Shares for the Timberwolves, had the highest assist % outside of the Wolves' guards and was an efficient offensive option ( 59 % TS, 54 % EFG, third on the team). Age (32) doesn't appear to be slowing him down. If Kirilenko could be convinced to sign a shorter contract, there may be no veteran stop gap who better meets Pete D's team vision.
Now convincing AK to sign with the Kings seems unlikely, but isn't out of the ream of possibilities. AK shunned pursuing sure playoff teams for a short-term, lucrative contract last year. No contenders are offering AK heavy money contracts so far. Dallas, Atlanta and Cleveland, our prime competitors in cap space and need, are all pursuing big men or guards right now. Minnesota is focusing on resigning Pekovic and has three potential small forwards in Budinger, Williams and Muhammed right now. Couldn't we offer them a sign-and-trade to shore up their thin front line? Couldn't we sell Kirilenko on seven to 10 million for a couple years (after selling a guard or amnestying Salmons), a new direction and Sacramento's strong Russian community?
Signing AK would allow the team to continue a rebuild with dignity. Young assets (Vasquez, Thomas and Patterson) compete for a future with the team while older midlevel assets (Thornton, Thompson, Landry and Kirilenko) compete for the next contract or a trade to a contender. If it fails, we tank and sell assets. If we succeed, we have assets to keep or trade for other assets.
Forget shot-happy Ellis- let's reload with AK-47! (A thousand apologies for the puns)