The Brooklyn Nets have not been shy about spending money this summer.
The additions of Celtic staples Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce ballooned Brooklyn’s already staggering payroll to an unprecedented $185 million for the coming season. In addition to Pierce and Garnett, the Nets are already paying a pretty penny for the services of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Brook Lopez.
An increased payroll was expected as soon as Mikhail Prokhorov, a Russian billionaire with seemingly unlimited ends, took over the team in 2010.
Prokhorov is the world’s 58th wealthiest individual, according to the most recent Forbes report, and he has proved that he is unafraid to move some coin in order to improve the Nets.
His most recent signing however, has some NBA executives scratching their heads, while others are calling foul play.
As if they hadn’t added enough new pieces already, the Nets just signed the ultra-versatile Andrei Kirilenko earlier this week, and at quite a bargain.
A ten million dollar man with the Timberwolves last season, Kirilenko opted out of his contract with the Wolves in order to take a seven million dollar pay cut to be in Brooklyn.
If he had remained in Minnesota, Kirilenko would be scheduled to make another $10 million in 2013-2014, as opposed to the $3.1 million he will bank in Brooklyn.
The discrepancy in salary alone has some around the league questioning the integrity of the move.
“There should be a probe. How obvious is it,” one Eastern Conference GM stated, implying that Prokhorov cut some sort of under-the-table deal with Kirilenko to bring him to Brooklyn.
"Let's see if the league has any credibility. It's not about stopping it. It's about punishing them if they're doing it," a league owner told Yahoo! Sports.
While it does seem strange that a player would voluntarily take such an enormous pay cut, especially to play for a team that is not yet established as a true contender, Kirilenko may have his reasons.
Maybe he felt that the Nets simply give him a better shot to win, or maybe he was eager to reunite with former Jazz teammate Deron Williams, as the two enjoyed some successful and productive years together in Utah.
Andrei’s agent insists that there is nothing shady about the signing.
The rest of the NBA however, is not so sure, and will continue to dig around for some dirt on the deal.
In the meantime, Brooklyn continues to build a well-balanced team with high expectations for the 2013-14 season. For his part, Prokhorov continues to throw money around like he grows it in his back yard, with Kirilenko becoming the newest, and one of the cheapest, key pieces to the puzzle.