The Commercial Appeal

Veteran forward Kirilenko opts out at Minnesota

- From Our Press Services

MINNEAPOLI­S — Andrei Kirilenko is opting out of the final year of a contract that would have paid him $10 million next season with the Minnesota Timberwolv­es, making him a free agent.

Kirilenko made the decision on Saturday, the deadline that was written into the two-year, $20 million deal he signed last summer, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press. The person requested anonymity because an official announceme­nt has not been made.

In turning down the final year of his contract with the Timberwolv­es, Kirilenko is instead hop- ing to get a little extra security with a longer term deal when the market opens at 12:01 a.m. Eastern on July 1.

The versatile forward is coming off a rejuvenati­ng year in which he averaged 12.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game for the Wolves, his best season in the league since 2005-06.

The 32-year- old had more spring in his step after spending the lockout year playing at home in Russia, and he flourished in Rick Adelman’s free-flowing system.

DEVELOPMEN­TS

Acquisitio­ns will help YES sales: No one should be happier about the Brooklyn Nets’ pend- ing acquisitio­n of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce than the sales force at the YES Network, where ratings for the basketball team’s telecasts more than doubled last season from the year before.

The addition of Garnett and Pierce is expected to drive interest among sports fans in the nation’s No. 1 media market, enabling the Yankees Entertainm­ent & Sports Network to raise ad rates, said Lee Berke, president of Scarsdale, N.Y.-based LHB Sports, Entertainm­ent & Media.

Garnett and Pierce led the Boston Celtics to the 2007-08 NBA championsh­ip. In a deal that can’t be formally completed until July 10 under league rules, they are headed for Brooklyn as part of a trade that will send five players and three first- round draft picks to Boston, ESPN reported, citing unidentifi­ed people.

“It’s like adding movie stars to a great TV show — you get more people to tune in,” Berke, who has worked with the Nets, said in a telephone interview. “You sell based off of expectatio­ns, and you’ve got a lot of expectatio­ns for this team next year. That will improve their ability to sell advertisin­g.”

The Nets posted a 0.92 household rating over 73 games on YES last season, the team’s first in Brooklyn since relocating from New Jersey, up 130 percent from the year before. To reach Geoff Calkins call 901-5292364, or e-mail calkins@commercial­appeal.com.

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