Tyler Ziegler - Host for Utah Jazz Fan Group
In recent days, Utah Jazz owner Larry H. Miller has made some telling comments concerning his once all-star 2 guard Andre Kirilenko. With somewhat of a prophetic tone, LHM declared publicly that AK would "be pretty hard to move," and added that "there aren't many teams" who would be interested in acquiring the five year pro. With this in mind, Jazz fans should probably begin to accept that fact that we're going to be seeing AK wearing baby blue for at least one more season. And quite frankly, we'd better be happy with that. The Jazz organization would come out on bottom of any potential trade involving Kirilenko, and that's never a good thing.
So just how much exactly is Kirilenko being (over) paid? Good question. Next season, as long as he is on the active list for at least one of the scheduled eighty-two regular season games, AK-47 will pull in a handsome 13.7 million dollars; the same amount that the average American earns in just over 342 years. Not bad for a guy who scores a mere 8.3 points per game. Just this past season AK scored a total of 584 points, and he was paid 12.3 million to do it. Now of course we all know that basketball isn't all about offensive production, but let's just imagine for a moment... If AK's salary was based solely upon how many points he scored, he made 21,127 dollars for every point he scored last season. That means that every time he made a basket he earned 42,254 dollars. How does that compare to your yearly income? Scary, isn't it?
For those of you who believe (and rightly so) that Andre was more of a defensive presence, lets crunch some more numbers. Last season he blocked a total of 144 shots, stole the ball 74 times, and pulled down 329 rebounds. Add those three categories together for a grand total of 547 "defensive units". If he was paid per defensive unit, they would be worth 22,500 dollars each. And finally, lets combine every positive statistic AK contributed for the 2006 - 2007 regular season; 584 points + 547 defensive units + 202 assists = 1333. Divide his 12.3 million dollar salary by 1333 and you get the magic number 9227. What importance or significance does this hold? None, I just thought it was interesting.
Last year, Andre made more money than Deron Williams, Mehmet Okur and Paul Millsap combined. The trio outscored him by 2700 points. Although he was the highest paid player on the team, he averaged fewer points per game than Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur, Deron Williams, Matt Harpring and even Derek Fisher. Despite his poor performance for the majority of the season, AK will be receiving a 1.4 million dollar raise come next August. Carlos Boozer will not see an increase in pay and Deron Williams will be the beneficiary of a 200,000 dollar augment.
And now for my point: It is time for Andre Kirilenko to step up and stop being the sixth most productive offensive player on the floor. Of course he's not going to touch the ball as much as he did a few years back, but he should at least be finishing in the top five as far as points per game goes. There are a couple of guys -a.k.a Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams- who want to help the team win a championship, too. That doesn't mean AK needs to all but disappear into oblivion. He doesn't need to pout and whine to the newspapers about not being involved... HE JUST NEEDS TO MAKE IT HAPPEN. I don't know how he's going to do it, he just needs to.
Every athlete goes through a "slump" if you will. A time in their career where nothing seems to go right, and everything inevitably goes dead wrong. There is a feeling in my gut that tells me AK just went through his slump. We will see, come August, if he's ready to start to contribute and make his team a title contender, or if he's just going to milk Larry H. Miller for another long year.