Sixers suspend forward Andrei Kirilenko
NEW YORK - Now it makes sense. 76ers coach Brett Brown confirmed Friday that Andrei Kirilenko has been suspended without pay. The forward has yet to report to the team after being acquired in a trade with the Brooklyn Nets on Dec. 11.
NEW YORK - Now it makes sense.
76ers coach Brett Brown confirmed Friday that Andrei Kirilenko has been suspended without pay. The forward has yet to report to the team after being acquired in a trade with the Brooklyn Nets on Dec. 11.
The 33-year-old refuses to play for the franchise. But the Sixers have been unwilling to release him from his expiring contract. Kirilenko is unable to collect the remainder of his $3.3 million contract under the suspension.
Brown acknowledged that he can't wait to see the Kirilenko situation get resolved by his joining the team or being released.
"How it's going to play out, how it is going to be resolved, I'm going to leave that to the club to work that out," Brown said. "I'm disappointed that I didn't get the chance to coach him."
Brown has a relationship with the Russian forward. As former Australian men's basketball coach, he coached against Kirilenko in the last two Olympic Games. Brown was also an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs before being hired by the Sixers in August 2013. Kirilenko was a close friend of a lot of the players Brown coached in San Antonio.
"I got a lot of respect for him," Brown said. "So when we signed him, I was excited to bring him in."
Instead, the Kirilenko situation has turned into a circus.
The suspension explains how the Sixers were able to acquire and release Jared Cunningham on Wednesday without cutting anyone. The Sixers have 15 players, the maximum number allowed. But they were allowed to make the trade.
"Just because of [Andrei] Kirilenko's absence, it's allowed for us to have a flexible spot," Brown said Wednesday. "Which is a good thing, and we'll learn more about that shortly as well."
The Sixers will have a roster spot available as long as Kirilenko remains suspended.
The Sixers were expected to waive Kirilenko shortly after they acquired him in the trade. Sources told Inquirer columnist Bob Ford that a handshake deal was in place for the Sixers to immediately release the 6-foot-9, 235-pounder. Brown and another team source disputed the allegation.
"I was looking forward to coaching him," Brown said. "After we [made the trade], I had coffee with him for an hour and a half, just talking. I sat with Andrei. I wouldn't have made the effort to do that if that were in place."
Thompson on rebound
It appears Hollis Thompson will return sooner than expected. Brown hinted earlier in the week that the shooting guard might be out for a while recovering from an an upper-respiratory infection. But Thompson and Brown both said he could return soon.
"I have to be 205 pounds before I get back," Thompson said. "I'm 202 maybe."
The 6-8 shooting guard had originally lost 20 pounds with his illness. He has regained seven of those pounds.
"I feel a lot better," he said. "I've never been sick like that before."