Timofey Mozgov is in Saint Petersburg where he conducts his yearly tournament for kids, TM25 Cup, supported by the NBA.
At the event, Denver Nuggets and Team Russia center has talked to a crowd of Russian journalists, and Boris Khodorovsky of ITAR-TASS reported what Mozgov said about the rumored possible trade to Cleveland Cavaliers.
Of course, it would be interesting to play for David Blatt’s team. I know his coaching philosophy well, after working with him on Russian national team. The thing you like about Blatt is that he always sets the highest goals for himself and for the team.
Mozgov said he has no plans to force his way out of Denver.
So far all the talks about trade to Cleveland are just rumors. My last season in Denver was good, and to try and do something to leave the team wouldn’t be smart.
Taras Barabash of R-Sport quotes Mozgov on possibility of playing with LeBron James:
I would like to play with LeBron. But even though playing for a contender is cool, you got to understand that I want to be part of the team and not to just join a contender and ride the coattails, being a burden.
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.
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