Andrei Kirilenko Not Expecting to Be Traded From Jazz
"I spoke with (Utah general manager) Kevin O'Connor, and he always said, 'Like, look, don't worry about that. It's all rumors. We're not trying (to trade Kirilenko),''' Kirilenko said in an interview with FanHouse. "I don't have any doubts, Kevin, his words ... (The talk was) about everything. About all the rumors. So I don't have any doubts. Even if it (a trade) happens, I understand business is business. No hard feelings. I've had a great time (in Utah).''
It's understandable Kirilenko, in his 10th season with the Jazz, has had his name surface so much in trade rumors. He's in the last season of a contract that will pay him $17.823 million this season.
Kirilenko hopes the Feb. 24 trade deadline passes with the 6-foot-9 forward still in Utah. He reiterated what he told FanHouse last January, that he wants to return to the Jazz next season and knows it would be at a significant pay cut.
"Definitely,'' Kirilenko said of wanting to re-sign next summer. "I've spent 10 years in Utah. I have a lot of friends. I know the system, the coach (Jerry Sloan), the general manager and all the stuff. We have a great relationship. We're kind of like a family. Of course, it's going to be a preference, a priority. Nobody knows what's going to happen after the season but I'm definitely going to (have) Utah as the first choice.''
There has been speculation for years the Russian might want to return to Europe to play after his contract expires. But Kirilenko, 28, doesn't consider that a top option.
"Right now, at this kind of point of your career, you don't really look at yourself, you look at your family,'' Kirilenko said. "I have three kids. I have a house in Utah. The kids are going to school. Definitely a priority, my kids ... So (Utah is) going to be my preference right now. Overseas is probably going to be the last choice.''
Kirilenko says that now "all I can do is play well.'' He said he's fully healthy after a strained left calf hampered him late last season, including knocking him out of eight of Utah's 10 playoff games.
Kirilenko did shoot a career-high 50.6 percent and average 11.9 points last season, his best in four years. But that hasn't stopped his name from being a fixture on lists of most likely to be traded.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter@christomasson