Sergey Karasev of the Brooklyn Nets and Russian national team has talked to Nikolay Mysin of Sovetsky Sport.
Here’s my quick translation.
What do you think about your trade?
It’s been over a month, but I still have mixed feelings. On one hand, Cleveland gave me a lot during my first season in the best league in the World. On the other hand, I understand that given the current situation in both teams, including the current rosters, in Brooklyn I have a better chance to start playing. Of course, this is all just on paper for now – nobody guarantees that I will be getting minutes regularly. There’s only one way: bust your back and prove your worth.
And still, in New York you will be playing next to Andrei Kirilenko.
Of course! This is a great plus of this relocation. Andrei is always ready to help on and off the court.
He said that Lionel Hollins will give you a chance to show what you can do.
So far I have only talked to coach for five or ten minutes in Orlando where I joined the team for the last game of Summer League right after the trade. But we didn’t have the time to discuss anything. We will talk in autumn, when I come back to New York from the national team. Then Lionel will let me know what he expects from me. And I will bend over backwards not to disappoint the coach.
Did you get to meet David Blatt before you left Cleveland?
Of course. I even practiced a couple times under his guidance. But then that trade happened… It happens in the NBA. Cavaliers were getting ready for the comeback of LeBron James, they needed to clear some cap room. I don’t know if Blatt himself took part in organizing the trade. But after the trade he wished me good luck. We had a great talked, remembered our work with the Russian national team, some of the moments in life… David, he is not just a coach, he is a very good friend.
After staying in Ohio, doesn’t New York scare you with all its temptations, traffic jams and fast paced lifestyle?
Oh, you better not stay in this city for more than two or three days – you get very tired. (Laughs). It’s beautiful and interesting, yes. But I don’t want to live there. This is why I rented an apartment in New Jersey – it’s calm and quiet and it’s close to the Nets practice facility where the team spends 80 percent of the time. Though the place is empty for now, there is no furniture or appliances. I will make myself at home when we are done with Eurobasket qualifiers and I leave to get ready for the NBA season.
Stanislav Gridassov (twitter) has talked to Andrei Kirilenko for PROsport magazine about doing charity work. Both have a great experience in the area, so they had a lot to share.
Here is my quick (please don’t pick on the wording) translation of the entire interview:
Stanislav Gridassov, editor-in-chief of PROsport magazine and co-founder of Moscow-Saratov Charity Foundation:
I remember well the impression it made when I first visited the United States and saw a typical newspaper photo: five or six basketball players were visiting a children’s hospital, smiling widely for the camera and holding an oversized $5000 check. “Yuck!”, I thought, “It is so fake. They were forced to go there, herded like soldiers. And those satisfied smiles! Couldn’t they just do a good deed without demonstrating it?
You probably were in photos like that a hundred times. I wonder what you have felt the very first time?
Andrei Kirilenko of the Brooklyn Nets and Kirilenko’s Kids Charity Foundation:
I didn’t get the impression that it was fake even when I was still playing in Russia and saw photos like that. On the contrary, it was a nice thing to see: people helping other people. Maybe it’s just our country? We always wonder, ‘What’s the catch?’, always stay on the look-out. And when you make it to the NBA, you get to know Americans better, and then it gets installed in you as a norm. Like a software that works the right way. People coming from different backgrounds, when they succeed in life, feel obligated to help those who were not that lucky. And it’s not about them being so cool and being able to afford it. No, they just have to.
We often have to contact well-known Russian athletes. Sometimes money is needed to build a children’s playground or to help an orphanage. Sometimes a terminally ill kid would ask for his favorite athlete to come visit him. There are different situations, yet we almost never hear no. But there is always one request: do not write anything about it, we will do everything, but in quiet.
This is their right. Here, people generally tend to keep themselves to themselves more than they do in America. They don’t like being public. Maybe it’s not the right thing to say, but an athlete in Russia is always ready to hear something negative about himself. “He gives himself airs”. “He is too proud of himself”. “He is greedy, he could have given more”.
And what should we do about this designation? “”So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others”.
I agree with the ‘do good deeds in secret’. But there is another factor. You can be proud of yourself, sticking yourself out there, or you can attract all the attention to those who you are helping. There are children who need help. Poor people. Hospitals. In this case, information about an athlete X or a club Y helping someone becomes not a PR move but an example for others, a way to move it closer to being the norm. Let people even consider it a PR move, but if someone else follows your example, and then another person, then another – it is already good.
I am not someone who would argue about it. I found out a long time ago that the louder a charity event gets, and the more well-known people get involved, the better the result. It’s strictly math. Did it in quiet – raised $500. Did it loudly – raised $5 000. Or $50 000. The most important thing, just like in sports, is the end result. If a child needs considerable money for a surgery, you cannot console him by saying that we wanted to keep our charity in secret.
There is nothing to argue about – this is the way charity works. The larger the number of people who know about a problem, the more help they can give. And then, you shouldn’t sweat over what people will think or say about you. Just do what you think you have to do.
Yes, there is another directive, too. ‘Help your neighbor as far as you can’
Kirilenko: I know a lot of athletes who do charity in quiet, Great gratitude goes to them! But as they stay in the shadows, they are limiting the potential number of people who could join them and get involved and help. And by “help” I don’t only mean giving money, how many would often think. You can donate your time too, your experience, your connections. There are many ways to provide help.
A public person, who millions of people know, can draw the attention to a problem, organize people, give a push for this problem to be resolved. There really is a difference if someone who nobody knows would address, and if Ovechkin would go out and say, ‘Guys, we need to get together and help’. We need to remember that we – pardon me – well-known athletes, have great means at our disposal.
Then, we should not forget that our people is very mistrustful.
Yes, this is another reason why well-known people should get involved in charity events: people trust them more.
How do you personally choose who to help, and who not to?
Originally, when Kirilenko’s Kids foundation was just getting started, we set a few directions for ourselves on who to provide help to: orphanages, children’s hospitals, children’s basketball schools, and also, older sports veterans. Some people we would find on our own, some people would contact us themselves. Right now we are working hard on developing an inter-school tournament School Basket – this season, 92 regular schools from all across Russia took part.
When you came back from NBA to CSKA Moscow for one season, you announced that you would give all of the contract money to charity. Who received that money?
Most of it went into Moscow orphanage number 59 – we repaired it, and built a basketball court there. Also, we have bought gear for teams participating in School Basket. We have repaired gyms in many schools.
Gridassov: Who else among basketball players does charity work?
Kirilenko: As an example: Fridzon, Ponkrashov, Vorontsevich.
Gridassov: I will add: Mozgov, Monia. Though Monia doesn’t like to talk about it.
Kirilenko: Well there are many others who don’t like to talk about it. And I am calling for people to speak up. To unite. Create social programs together. Festivals. There is a lot that we can do together. Look at America, where the whole country does charity work.
Katerina Manina of SportBox.ru has interviewed Andrei Kirilenko who attended a streetball tournament in Moscow.
Here is my quick translation:
You have renewed your contract with Brooklyn. Why did you make this decision, even though you had player option for the next season?
When I was just signing the contract originally, I planned that I would stay in New York for a couple years. Me and my wife always wanted to live for some time in this city. We have seen a lot of different places, different parts of America, different people – in Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Minnesota. But we have never managed to feel the real spirit of this special city. We wanted to dive into this atmosphere. And then many factors came into play, making it possible for it to become reality.
Of course, the most important thing was last year’s big trade, when the team got Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. I wanted to play on such a roster where, from the very beginning of the season, everybody expects you to win. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get it done, but it was a good try. We didn’t start the season well either, then managed to regroup and finish on a good note. Played a seven game first round series, but we came a bit short against Miami. That was a great experience. Of course I would have liked to play more, but I knew what I was getting into before I signed.
How did you like working with Jason Kidd?
When Kidd became the head coach, players didn’t know what to expect from him. He never worked as a coach, so he didn’t have any kind of reputation by that moment. For the first 30 games, it was very hard. I understood that it was a process, but it’s hard when you lose more games than you win. It helped me that I was injured. [smiles] Because even on the bench you think, ‘I can come out and change that!’. And there I couldn’t even step on the court and do anything. But then it became better, things started falling into place: team started winning, I came back from the injury. And we finished the season great.
What do you expect from the new Nets coach Lionel Hollins?
I know about Hollins that he is a very experienced coach who knows how to work particularly well with veterans, because he was the head coach of a rather older team in Memphis. I think this is a great choice by Brooklyn’s management. I think he will be able to establish the system for our older team.
For a lot of basketball players, NBA title is the pinnacle of their career. If we imagined a situation where you were told, ‘You are going to be a champion, wear a ring, but in exchange you will have to give back…’ What would you agree to sacrifice?
But what kind of a sacrifice that would have to be? If it’s something of material value, then I am ready to part with anything – the car, the house, none of that is important. If it has to do with something emotional, something I’m attached to, family, then no. I am definitely not giving a year of my life, for example.
You have played with Alexey Shved in Minnesota. What does the guy need to start playing in the NBA?
He has everything to play in the NBA. To do it better, he needs the trust of his coach, nothing else. I saw him on the court, he knows how to play basketball! He has proven himself in the first half of his rookie season. He played great, had everything going for him, and then… The less playing time you have, the less chances you have to prove yourself. You just need to trust in him.
David Blatt, who you worked with on the Russian national team, became the head coach of Cleveland. What kind of future do you think he has as head coach in the NBA?
I am happy for David, we are close friends. After so many years spent together on the national team, I can’t talk about him just as a coach I used to worked with. He is more than a coach – he is a friend, a family member even. When he was named head coach of Cleveland I congratulated him immediately. This is a huge step forward for him, he has deserved this position a long time ago. The thing is, NBA is a league on its own, and European coaches are not very welcome here. But it happened at last, and it’s a great chance for David.
Are the jerseys with our name on the back selling well in the Nets store?
My jerseys are flying off the shelves. [smiles] I tried to buy one late in the season and couldn’t do it. Probably Russian-speaking people of Brighton Beach bought them all.
What shoes do you prefer to play in? Do you have a favorite model?
I have been playing in adidas shoes for 15 years already. I have a favorite model – Crazy Light, this is the best of those I tried. The new Crazy Light are coming soon, so I am standing in line to get them, can’t wait.
Newest member of the Brooklyn Nets Sergey Karasev commented on his trade via his official group at VK social network.
Here is my quick translation:
Hi to all the subscribers of my group.
As you already know, there are changes going on in my career – I am moving to Brooklyn. My agent Andy Miller called this morning and told me that Cavaliers were going to trade me to the Nets.
I took this news calmly, because players getting traded in the NBA is a regular thing. Before the morning practice, Matthew Delavedova came by, we talked and wished each other luck. Club managers came to see me too. But this is not the last time that we see each other – I am going to see the guys from the Cavs again.
It’s a little disappointing that I don’t get to play in Summer League, because tomorrow I’m already leaving for New York for medical tests.
Am I glad or not – time will tell. I am sure that Brooklyn is a good destination, because, as I said before, the most important thing for me is getting playing time. I want to play and be valuable for the team.
The Nets’ roster is full of experienced players who I can learn a lot from. And, of course, it’s really great to be joining Andrei Kirilenko.
I would like to say a big thank you to the Cavaliers fans, all my teammates, team and club management for their support and help during my rookie season in the NBA.
It sounds like Karasev isn’t overwhelmed with excitement, and one can guess why. After being a go-to guy on his team in Europe, he had to spend a season sitting on the bench or in the D-League. He wants to play, and with the Nets’ stacked roster it’s not likely to happen at least for another year.
Still, he didn’t play much for a reason.
Nothing is ever given in the NBA. Got to be patient, work to improve and earn those minutes.
Karasev’s group on VK also reached out to Andrei Kirilenko for a comment on the trade:
— I am sure that this is a great move both for Sergey and for the Nets. Sergey is a young and talented player, a valuable asset for the future of our team. Personally, I am glad that a Russian player joined the team – me and Sergey have a really good relationship. There are many Russians in New York, Brooklyn Nets have a Russian owner, so I thing Sergey will be able to adjust and feel himself at home in Brooklyn.
— You have great experience of playing in the NBA, our younger players look up to you. Will you patronize Sergey in Brooklyn, provide him advice, help him off the court?
— I’ve known Sergey since he was a kid, I played on a team with his father. Of course I will always help Sergey. Idon’tliketheword“patronize”. I played on the Timberwolves with Alexey Shved and always tried to help him, give some advice, but never patronized him. Sergey and Alexey are grown up guys, they know it perfectly themselves what they need to do. There is no way I will interfere in Sergey’s life and I’m even less likely to play basketball for him.
— What do you think about Sergey’s future with this team?
— We have a rather older team, and I think it will be a good experience for Sergey to see the guys from our team in action, to inherit all the good things from them. In a year or two, many of the players will be leaving, and then Sergey will have his chance to take his spot.
The Brooklyn Nets have won on the road against the Lakers – 108-102 last night. It was Andrei Kirilenko’s 25th game with his new team and the first one he started. Right after the game Kirilenko talked with Pavel Osipov of Sport-Express.
Here’s my quick translation:
When did you learn that you would be put into the starting five against the Lakers?
During the team meeting in the morning.
What was your reaction?
(Laughs) Didn’t I ever start?
On the Brooklyn Nets, never.
Today there were reasons for this. First, Shaun Livingston got a minor injury. Second, we missed Kevin Garnett who doesn’t play in second games of back-to-backs.
You, on the other hand, have played too much in these last two games, setting season highs. First, 32 minutes against Golden State, then, less than a day later – almost 35 and a half against the Lakers. Isn’t it hard?
No. I felt myself even better during the second game, felt being at 100 percent – just the way I should. This is why I was running and jumping around. Didn’t make all my shots though (laughs). In previous games, it was like playing half the norm.
Another season-high – 10 rebounds, and so a double-double.
This season I completely stopped paying attention to my stats. It doesn’t make any sense when you play much less than you used to. But on the other hand, it’s a new club and there are new goals. This is why stats don’t mean anything for me.
And still, four steals (third personal best of the tournament) – does it mean that Kirilenko is back in his top shape? Do you agree?
(Laughs). But I had three of those right in the beginning of the game, it the first quarter.
But the last one happened in the decisive moment, when you led by eight with a minute to go. It looked like that was a key moment.
It’s possible. Though right after that I lost the ball – thew a pass to Joe Johnson across the defense for some reason, even though I know one should never do it.
You made just two of your six free-throw attempts, it was the only down point of this game. Why didn’t they go in?
I don’t know. And I don’t understand why.
Last question. Right now Brooklyn is on its longest road trip that spans seven games. How hard is it to play so many games on the road in a row?
It’s not easy. And it’s very good that we won two of our last three games. Especially since we are facing Portland and Denver next – these teams play very well at home.
Shocked just like everybody else by Kirilenko’s decision to pick the Brooklyn Nets and terms of the deal, I couldn’t wait for comments from the player himself. After the deal was officially announced, Kirilenko eagerly talked with Pavel Osipov of Sport-Express.
Here is my translation:
A couple weeks ago, after you didn’t pick up your contract option with Minnesota to stay there for another season, you said that you wanted to sign a multi-year deal with one of the clubs. But your contract with Brooklyn is the same, “1 + 1″. Why?
I had a lot of thoughts about the contract length. I talked to my wife and my kids. And I came to a conclusion that I didn’t know what I was chasing. Because, I got a unique chance to play for a team that is a real title contender. To step on the court with stars like Pierce and Garnett – one can only dream about it! This is a chance to join a crusade. This is the first time in my 12 seasons in the NBA that I will be playing for a team which is now one of the main title contenders.
And still, you walked away from 10 millions for one season in Minnesota and agreed to just 3 millions for the same amount of time in Brooklyn!
The financial part of the question really was important. We have discussed it too, for a long time. And we came to a conclusion that you can’t make all the money in the world. And in the NBA, if you want to achieve a serious goal, sometimes you have to sacrifice something.
Just one day ago it was in the news that San Antonio wanted to acquire you. That is a 2013 NBA finalist, by the way. And there was a different sum of money mentioned there – 8 millions per season. Why didn’t it suit you?
I am grateful for all the teams that were interested in signing me. There were plenty of them – believe me, I had options to choose from.
Did you consider staying in Minnesota?
A year ago I was planning a completely different scenario. I thought I would stay in Minnesota for the rest of my career. But these are the NBA realities: things often don’t go the way you expect them to. The previous general manager has left the team, and the situation turned 180 degrees. I don’t blame anyone that it happened. It’s just that other general manager decided to place his bet on other players. All that said, I stick to my opinion that Rick Adelman is one of the best coaches in the league. And the chemistry within the team was amazing. But it just happened that the team went for a younger roster. So all that I can do now is root for Minnesota, just like I do for another team that I played for, Utah. I have left a part of my soul and my heart in those teams.
And still, why Brooklyn?
Of course it was an option for quite some time – from the moment Mikhail Prokhorov became the owner. What really influenced my decision now was the trade with Boston. It’s obvious that it has been done in order to make a serious run at winning an NBA title.
Can you call it the deciding factor?
Yes. In addition to that, I am joining a strong team like that not as a veteran who is only able to play for five minutes, but as a player who is capable of helping the team. There’s a competitive fire, the motivation. It is really hard to constantly find a motivation when you are playing for a team that doesn’t make the playoffs. I know that it’s not going to be easy in Brooklyn. But at the same time, it is really interesting to see what this project will become. To see how several players of this caliber will manage to fit together.
How important it is that Prokhorov is the Nets’ owner?
Of course it is one of the main pluses for me. I know him for a long time, going back to the period when I was playing for CSKA before I first moved to the NBA. You can’t say that we are friends. But we have a good relationship and we support each other. It is great that our guy, a Russian, is so interested in basketball. When he became the Nets’ owner it created a platform – thanks to that, NBA scouts are paying closer attention to Russian players now.
A move to Brooklyn for you is also a reunion with Deron Williams who you played with in Utah for a few seasons.
I talked to him on Thursday and he was persuading me to join the Nets. Williams is one of the best point guards in the NBA, and now he has to organize a team which is stacked at every position. This is no joke when a single team has seven or eight players who know how to play quality basketball.
Another former teammate of yours could have joined Brooklyn – Kyle Korver. But as it became known today, he decided to stay in Atlanta.
It’s a pity, of course. That would have been great! I love Kyle and respect him – as a good teammate, as a player. I still have fond memories of those times in Utah – Memo, Boozer, Deron, Korver, Millsap. Nostalgic! By the way, family question has also influenced my decision: it is great for my kids to reunite with Deron’s kids – they used to be friends. All in all, there is a set of small but warm and good moments that influenced the decision. I think I want to live in New York for a bit. During all my time in the NBA my family has never lived in a big American city. And it is also interesting for me to try and play in one.
Is it interesting to play for Jason Kidd, a coach who was a player himself just a couple months ago?
I have already talked to him. I congratulated him on his appointment. But I called him ‘coach’ and he replied, ‘I still can’t get used to it’. I think it is even a bigger challenge for him than for any of the players. But he is lucky to have a roster like this – he will have to coach players that almost don’t require to be coached! Just look, the current roster has more than 100 years of NBA experience combined! Many players have a career longer than 10 seasons. It will be very easy to explain something to players like that.
Still, doesn’t it bother you that the team is led by a rookie coach?
It is hard for me to evaluate Kidd – I didn’t have a single practice with his team. I only know him as a fantastic point guard. Probably one of the five best in NBA history. It also adds confidence that former point guards do great. Doc Rivers became an NBA champion with Boston, Avery Johnson made NBA Finals with Dallas and Golden State improved rapidly when Mark Jackson arrived.
How well do you know Kidd?
We have known each other for a long time, but we never really communicated on a personal level. Just said ‘hi’ and ‘bye’. We have been meeting since my early NBA seasons when he was a Nets player himself. I remember the way he played for each of his teams, probably other than Phoenix where he started his career.
Doesn’t a company so full of stars scare you?
You can’t scare me with that – I have met each of them on the court many times. Take Garnett, we know each other well for a very long time. By the way, he is the guy who taught me how to play dice – American rules, everything. It happened a long time ago, back in 2006. We were getting ready for the season together in Las Vegas, and on one of the days Kevin, along with Chauncey Billups, has taught me all the nuances.
At the same time you should understand that on a team which is so full of star players, where Paul Pierce is playing at your position, you will almost certainly have to come off the bench.
Well this can’t possibly scare me, that’s for sure! This is my philosophy: it is absolutely not important where you start the game – on the court or on the bench. It is much more important to be as effective as possible during the game. We have touched upon this topic with Kidd. He said I shouldn’t be worried – in any case, I will be playing. Brooklyn has become a veteran team, and extended rotation during games is inevitable. So there should be no problem regarding playing time. Though I don’t try to get inside a coach’s mind. Having played in the NBA for so many seasons, I know it perfectly how to keep myself in shape. And sometimes you can be more useful coming off the bench. Personally, I am confident that I will get enough playing time. And why even bring me on the team if it isn’t so?
I have a feeling that Brooklyn will be very similar to last year’s New York – which also had a lot of veterans who played great during the regular season but didn’t have much success in the playoffs.
I don’t agree. I think it makes more sense to make a comparison with the Lakers. But Brooklyn has a much more balanced roster. Los Angeles didn’t have a deep bench like this – basically it was just four superstars. In the end, all Lakers managed to do is reach the playoffs.
From the moment your agreement with Brooklyn became known, it fueled gossip. First, the fans on the internet commented that Kirilenko had agreed to take a pay cut because Prokhorov would make up for it in Russia. And then a few NBA general managers voiced their unhappiness and asked the league’s office to start an investigation regarding possible under-the-table deal between Russian player and owner. What would you say about these accusations?
Just one thing: it is laughable. It is strictly forbidden by the NBA rules, and the league’s office keeps the situation under great control. It is silly not just to talk about it – even to think of it. Masha and I have argued what is better: to go after more money or play where you want and to try and reach a serious goal. In my career, I have made a decent sum of money. Indecent even. (Laughs). And to not use a chance that the Nets provide would not be right. The times when I could have a desire to make as much as possible have passed. By the way, our family debates were quire serious. But after weighing on everything it became clear: the sum of the factors made Brooklyn a clear winner.
Kirilenko often said that he doesn’t just make decisions alone, and his wife Masha is always involved in a major way – which provoked criticizm, fair or unfair, from Russian fans whenever AK-47 missed an international tournament. So it is easy to see that, after pay cut became inevitable, Kirilenko had to sell Masha on the place where the family could move, and the Nets could offer the most.
Kirilenko himself considered the Brooklyn option from the very beginning, when there was still chance of getting big money offers and it was a long shot.
Follow me on twitter for Kirilenko updates.
Someday I will have to learn how to pull quotes from a text in order make it a quicker blog post, but this Andrei Kirilenko’s interview by Pavel Osipov of Sport-Express was so good that I ended up translating the whole thing once again.
Here it goes:
- It felt like you liked everything in Minnesota. Then why didn’t you pick up your contract option for the next season?
- It didn’t make sense to me. Next year the situation would be the same, and it is uncomfortable for me and my entire family to feel this uncertainty. For all my close ones to keep on thinking, “Do we have to relocate after the season ends?”. So it was a strategic decision. I want to sign a longer contract. And it doesn’t mean that I’m definitely leaving Minnesota – at all. A really do like everything here. Everything but the length of my contract.
– How long do you want it to be? Three or four seasons?
- (Laughs). I prefer it to be for more than one. I am sure that I’ll be able to play at high level for at least three more seasons. After that, maybe I will have to consider signing for a veteran minimum. But it is impossible to say what is going to happen after three years. After all, I used to think that I would retire at 30. But right now I’m already 32, and I am still full of energy and desire to play.
- Does your decision have anything to do with the desire to play for a better team which is a title contender, unlike Minnesota?
- Of course it is always better to play for a good team. But for me, the atmosphere inside a club has a great importance. The team environment in Minnesota is remarkable. I am really lucky in terms of this. And the current roster, I am sure, can do much better than last season when we lost our chances of making the playoffs early.
- When was the first time that you thought that maybe you shouldn’t pick up your option with Minnesota?
- Not that long ago. And anyway it’s just part of the process. They way media presented it is just laughable – as if I terminated my contract with the club and left! It is nothing like that. It was never in my plans to move back and forth between cities. On the contrary, right now I am extremely interested in a more stable situation. That was the reason for my decision. After all, my kids are going to enter school, and it is better to plan things like this beforehand.
- So your priority is to sign a multi-year deal with Minnesota?
- Not exactly like this. To tell the truth, I don’t want to fill my head with all this right now – I’m on vacation. My agent Marc Fleisher takes care of all my business. We are working together for 15 years already and never had any trouble with each other. Normally Marc would collect all the necessary information and present the possible moves to me. Right now I can only tell this – I am still a Minnesota player. I like everything about the club – the city, the teammates, and the organization. The only disappointing thing is last season’s result.
– Did Fleisher already tell you of any opportunities?
- No. It is only possible to start the negotiations on July 1. And the player market opens only July 10th.
- Do you think there is a chance for your comeback to CSKA?
- It is 99 percent that I stay in the NBA. But who knows what may happen. What if none of the 30 NBA teams needs me?
– What would you prefer: a multi-year deal with Minnesota for 10 million per, or with Miami but for twice less the money?
- I don’t want to put myself into some limits. And anyway, does it make any sense to join a team where LeBron James is playing at your position? Or to Oklahoma where there is Kevin Durant? It will almost certainly mean that you are just quietly finishing your career. And I feel myself capable of really being productive.
- And what would you say about Brooklyn which is owned by Mikhail Prokhorov and is bringing in superstars like Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce?
- I am really happy to see this trade, I hope it happens. Then both sides benefit. Brooklyn gets the players who can get them to the very top, and Boston is working for its future.
For me, a lot of opportunities are attractive. There are 30 almost equally strong teams in the NBA. Well, maybe there are 10 where I wouldn’t like to play. And it is very difficult to choose between 20 other teams. Somewhere there is a great roster, another team is located in a great city, the third one has a super-coach, fourth is a brilliant organization. And so on.
Still, my chances of joining Brooklyn are minimal. The roster is almost complete. Though… Anything is possible in the NBA.
And anyway, I am going to root for all the teams that have something to do with Russians – Minnesota, Denver, Cleveland, and Brooklyn. Well, and for Utah – just like I always used to. (Laughs).
– You have mentioned Cleveland which has picked Sergey Karasev 19th in the Draft. What is his future like in the NBA?
- It is really difficult for me to see Serega as a player. I know him ever since he was seven, when I used to bring him to CSKA practices. For me he is a son of an older friend (Vasily Karasev – Sport-Express). And I am really happy for him. I can only wish success for him and a move to the NBA as soon as possible. So that he could become the best Russian who has ever played in this league.
In general, I really want our compatriots to gradually take the leading roles on their NBA teams. And I am always willing to do whatever I can to help my compatriots. It will be better if Karasev moves to the States this summer and doesn’t stay in Russia for another season or two. He has already passed that stage and needs another mountain to climb now.
- But after you were drafted, you still stayed to play another two seasons with CSKA. Why?
- I was in a different situation. I was under contract, exactly for two years. If not for that, I would have moved to Utah right away.
– Any other advice you may give to Karasev Jr.?
- He has vast opportunities in front of him. But one should always remember: in American basketball, any incredible things are possible. Nobody knows how a given player’s career will unfold. Remember a guy like Kwame Brown? He was absolutely best at student level, but didn’t become a star in the NBA. Or another example, Kevin Martin. A player who few people knew emerged as a completely different player in Sacramento.
- When do you plan to decide about your future?
- I have nowhere to hurry. Last year there were Olympics. Because of that I didn’t want any speculation and I signed my contract rather quick. And this time I am training individually. I plan on sending my son to a sports camp. And I plan to spend some time there myself. I will resume my full practices in early August.
– And still? You didn’t answer the question.
- I will decide about my future between July 10 and September 29. The sooner it happens, the better. So that I would know it for sure what to do and where to relocate – if I have to, of course. But not everything depends on me. So, it doesn’t make sense to be guessing.
Of course I will be following Andrei Kirilenko’s free agency closely. Follow me on Twitter to receive future updates.
After the trade deadline has passed without any news, Timofey Mozgov was interviewed via phone by the Sport-Express journalist Alexey Bezyazychnyi.
Here goes my quick translation of the whole thing (minus the questions about the national team).
- Of course I badly want to play. From this perspective, a trade was supposed to happen. It would be good both for me and the club, because my contract expires in summer, which means I will be able to leave Denver without any compensation. I don’t know what was on our management’s mind when they decided not to trade me. But if it happened, it means that there were some major reasons for that. NBA is a serious business, where nothing is being done without a reason. I hope I will get an opportunity to show what I can do this season. Otherwise, why keep me on the team?
- It was reported that Miami and Minnesota have contacted the Nuggets about you. Did it really happen?
- Yes, my agent told me about it. And I would go to Miami or Minneapolis gladly. On one condition only – that they would let me play. That the Heat are the main title contender this season didn’t matter to me at all. I am not going to sit on the bench even for a champion’s ring. To me, playing time is more important right now than any team results.
- In terms of team results Denver is doing well: the team is among the playoff eight and is battling for the home court advantage.
- We are really playing well. And to some extent it’s a reason for optimism, because exactly during the playoffs last season George Karl has put me into the starting lineup, even though during the regular season he played me almost as little as he does now. What if history repeats itself? You can expect anything from Karl, as I have already learned multiple times. So I try not to get disappointed because of coaching decisions. If it depended on me, then it would be another thing. Then it would make sense to analyze what I am doing wrong. But in my case, there’s no such correlation. I have to just work and wait.
- How did you spend the All-Star Weekend, during which you could have been traded?
- I didn’t watch the broadcasts from Houston, not even the Rookie game where Lyosha Shved played. My wife has dreamt to visit Los Angeles for a long time, so we used these few days to fill this gap. We spent a great vacation, visited Beverley Hills, met the family of Yaroslav Korolev that lives in California. I should admit that I liked it in Los Angeles.
- Would you be glad if you learned that you don’t have to leave Los Angeles, because you have been traded from Denver to the Lakers?
- (Pauses to think about it). It’s hard to say. To sit on the bench behind the backs of Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol just because this is a great club and Los Angeles is a nice city – I don’t want it. If I was 35 years old, maybe I would think differently. But I am only 26, and I want to play.
- If Denver doesn’t provide this opportunity until the end of the season, will you stay in the NBA or move to Europe as a free agent in summer?
- You can’t rule out anything. But right now my priority is the NBA. According to my agent, there are two or three clubs in this league that are willing to sign me during offseason. We will consider everything and make a decision.
- What’s left is to just wish you to adjust to the demands of George Karl eventually.
- Thank you. I can’t wait myself for the moment he remembers that I’m there. Especially since the season looks promising for the Nuggets. Last season when we pushed the first-round series to seven games, it was perceived as sensation. Now, even if we make it to the Conference Finals, nobody will be surprised.
Too bad that Moz doesn’t get any minutes lately. It is hard for him, because he is a rare super-tall player who wasn’t just pushed into playing basketball, but actually loves to play. We’ll see what the free agency brings him an opportunity to get some playing time, well deserved on effort alone.
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Alexey Shved talks braces, beer, missing his hair, Iverson as genius, and wearing his pajamas to practice
Here’s my traslation of Alexey Shved’s recent interview at Sports.ru:
- Don’t you get bored here, having moved from Moscow? Minneapolis is such a quiet city.
- Actually, I already got used to everything. I feel comfortable, I like it here… I had my good share of fun in the past, so I can be leading a quiet life now. Of course I knew that people like basketball here, but I couldn’t imagine to what extent… It’s even hard to explain, how good it feels to be playing here. Fans would approach you, ask for a photo, they talk in a nice manner. Here, there are no people who would annoy you and ask some nonsense questions. Everyone is good and nice.
- Are there any rituals for welcoming the rookies?
- It depends on a team. We don’t have such a ritual. They only gave me a pink rucksack; it’s lying in my car. Some of the guys had toy baby strollers next to their lockers. All in all, we have a young team. Kirya is the main veteran. So everyone makes jokes on everyone and there’s no rookie hazing. Once, I went to the practice wearing my pajamas. I was warm outside; I just put on my pajama pants and went to the gym. Everybody was laughing and saying it was cool.
- How’s your English?
- Well, I started learning it while in school. I didn’t take any lessons here. I just talk, and also ask Andrei about some of the words that I don’t know. My brother came here, he gives me tips too. I can already watch movies. I don’t know yet how to say everything I want, but I understand almost everything and people are starting to understand me too.
- Did you get a nickname in the States?
- They call me Alexy*, we’ve taught some of the Americans how to pronounce Aleshka. They also call me Slim, like Slim Shady.
- You are a fan of The Simpsons and of Homer Simpson in particular. What in America made you recall some of the scenes from the cartoon?
- Well, that everybody loves donuts here, and I eat them too. People mostly drink beer and not stronger drinks, exactly like in The Simpsons.
- Why did you decide to cut your hair only in America, even though in CSKA you ignored whenever someone even hinted about it?
- I wanted to change something. And now I already miss my hair. I don’t care what people on the outside advice me to do. I only listen to my relatives and those who are close, and they would always explain it to me about what I should do. If I want it, I will grow my hair again. It doesn’t make me play worse.
- Who is visiting you in Minneapolis?
- Right now everybody has already left. But there were: parents, sisters and their husbands, one of the nephews, the youngest one. We have a big house, so everybody fit in. My mom came and made a lot of pelmeni. Now we ran out of them, so my girlfriend will be making it. She is cooking all the time, and does it very well. Russian cuisine, Italian, Spanish… Anything!
- Are there any restrictions set by the club concerning food and alcohol?
- Nothing special. If you want to drink some beer, nobody will be against it. What’s important is to know your measure and to do well in practice.
- What if one comes to practice when hung over?
- Such thing didn’t happen yet.
- Do you do everything the right way while driving too?
- I was taking a test here to get an American driving license. I didn’t pass it on the first try, because it’s really strict. If you forget to use the turn light – that’s it, you failed the test. Probably I got used to driving here by now. They don’t stop you here unless you violate the driving rules, and I was never pulled over. If I go to Moscow now, I’ll be in a state of shock for the first few days.
- What’s your favorite car?
- BMW X5 and X6. I have bought an X5 here right when I arrived. It’s really cool to drive here, with no traffic jams. It takes me five minutes to drive to the gym. If told to be there at 12-30, I leave the house at 12-20 and I’m never late.
- You are working under the great coach Rick Adelman now. What is your biggest impression?
- He is a very calm person. He will not shout at you, but instead will explain everything calmly, you will understand and you will want it yourself to make everything right the next time. He trusts completely, and it concerns not only me, but many other players too.
- Do you have any kind of field goal attempt limit set by the coach?
- It works differently here: you miss, but everyone will tell you, “Shoot it!” If you are open – shoot it. And you shouldn’t think that you have missed five times before that – you can take another five shots.
- How do the local journalists treat you?
- In the NBA, even if you didn’t do something right, people would try to support you – both the journalists and the fans. Nobody has ever said anything bad to me, even after an off game.
- Are you going to protect your foot after the ankle sprain?
- I will be taping it for the remainder of the season, and then stop, because I can’t play like this – I need my foot to feel free, and it is impossible when wearing high shoes and a tape.
- You wear braces – did you make a special mouthpiece because of it?
- I don’t wear a mouthpiece at all. Three times in my career I took a very strong shot in the teeth, but I can’t wear a mouthpiece – it makes it difficult to breathe. And I’m taking my brackets off in three months. After the three years that I’ve been wearing it, I just can’t wait.
- You said that your idol was Allen Iverson, an anti-basketball player as a lot of people think, one who would only play for himself. Did your taste change with age or not?
- Allen Iverson is a genius. Yes, he didn’t get his ring, but he was able to outplay the entire opponent’s team. I think he is the most skilled NBA player of all time.
- How do rank yourself in the league? Well, at least among the rookies?
- I think that I play not worse than the people who were drafted this year. And then, I’m older – I’m not 20 but 24 already.
- What do you need to improve to have a successful NBA career?
- Everything! I will work on my physical condition and on skills too. So that just no one could steal the ball from me.
Since Shved brought it up himself, his first name sounds more like like “alec-SAY” than “a-LE-xy” as he’s normally called now in America. Listen:
A few days ago Alexey Shved was interviewed by Anton Solomin for Championat.com.
Here’s my translation:
- It looks like you are immune to the magic of Madison Square Garden, which would normally put pressure on the Knicks’ opponents.
- Nothing really put any pressure on me. But the fans there impressed – they are very loud, and many celebrities go to games too. The city itself resembles Moscow. Lots of lights, same traffic jams… They were even there on Sunday when we played the Knicks.…
- Does Rick Adelman instruct you personally during practices, considering that you are the only rookie on the team?
- Well, he talks to everyone. Actually, our coaching staff is really big and everybody gives some pieces of advice. I try to follow everything they say, because they wouldn’t recommend anything bad. It’s important that there are many former NBA players among the coaches and they know perfectly what they are talking about.
- And your sports boldness which shows itself during last seconds of the games – did you get it from them?
- Well, I’ve always been bold. Maybe that is the reason why there were some people who didn’t want me to play. (laughs). Why should I always do something for the others? Of course, you need to listen to your coach when he explains something during a timeout. But at the same time you need to feel the moment when you need to take initiative. Because there are moments which you cannot predict and draw on a tablet. So, sometimes you have to take the lead. Of course you can make the shot or you can miss. But if you don’t take the risk then you will just make some little passes for the rest of your career.
Later Shved took the decisive shot at the buzzer against the Houston Rockets and missed.
- By the way, you are doing great when it comes to assists. Recently you had your first NBA double-double of 12 points and 12 assists, and just three rebounds short of a triple-double. Didn’t teammates ask for a celebration?
- No, it’s not Russia where you have a double-double and, let’s go party! (laughs).
- Are you going to celebrate Christmas with the rest of America?
- Actually the Christmas spirit is really felt here during the last few days. It’s really nice, the whole city is lit up, and there are many Christmas trees and Santas in the streets… But for me the New Year still remains the main holiday, so we will celebrate that.
- It’s good that game schedule makes it possible to see the New Year in at midnight at home with your family. But you have a road game on January 2nd in Salt Lake City, so you need to travel. Will there be enough time for a good sleep?
- The lifestyle here is calmer than in Moscow. The restaurants close at 11 or 12 PM, the night clubs – no later that at 2 AM. So in any case you are able to wake up at 11 fully rested. In general, after living in Russian capital, I really like Minneapolis. It’s small and cozy and there is almost no traffic jams. Of course, you can have a lot of fun in Moscow, but the city is too big.
- Does it mean that if you could choose between Minnesota and New York, you would still pick your current team, taking the city into consideration too?
- What was the most memorable New Year celebration that you had?
- It was two or three years ago. We just fell asleep at 1 AM – how do you like that for a celebration? We had plans to go out and our friends have been waiting for us… And I don’t really understand how it happened, but we just came back home and passed out. We woke up at 10 AM, looked at each other and said, “Yeah, it was so much fun”.
- What was the best present that you remember?
- We have a tradition to prepare a lot of New Year gifts. To our parents, relatives, my girlfriend’s parents… Respectively, they give a lot of presents to us. Each year it’s such a pile of presents that it’s hard to pick out just one thing. But in general, the most important thing for me is not the price but how useful the thing is. For example, my girlfriend can give, say, a pair of grey pants which I didn’t have, and to me it’s better than any most expensive present.
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