Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Kirilenko returns to CSKA as lockout looms

MOSCOW -- Former NBA All Star Andrei Kirilenko has signed a three-year deal to return to Russian champions CSKA Moscow after a 10-year absence.

The 30-year-old Russian became a free agent after his contract with the Utah Jazz expired at the end of last season.

National Basketball Association team owners and locked-out players failed to reach agreement after a second successive day of labour talks on Saturday. The regular season is scheduled to begin on Nov. 1 but without progress in talks games could be postponed or cancelled.

"When the lockout threat became real I started thinking about coming back to play in Russia," Kirilenko told a news conference after being presented by CSKA on Tuesday.

"I had looked at only two choices - CSKA or Spartak (St Petersburg, where he began his professional career).

"Of course, if it wasn't for a lockout, 99 percent I would have stayed in the NBA," he added.

Kirilenko, who has retained the option of returning to the NBA if play resumes, moved to the United States in 2001 and spent his entire NBA career with Utah.

He was selected to play in the NBA All-Star Game in 2004 and was also voted the most valuable player at the 2007 European championship after leading Russia to a surprise gold medal.

He captained the Russian team to bronze at Eurobasket 2011 in Lithuania last month.

"Andrei is a special player not only for CSKA but for the whole of Russian basketball," CSKA President Andrei Vatutin said on the club's website (www.cskabasket.com).

© Copyright (c) Reuters


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