For those unaware, Andrei Kirilenko has not played for most of the season, due to a back injury, then to attend to a personal matter, before being traded to the 76ers. Personal matters are by nature personal, and thus they probably shouldn't be discussed in public, but these things tend to get out, because fans and reporters and teams, not unlike Liberty Ballers writers and readers and our favorite team, have become super obsessive about the inner dealings of professional sports and the people that partake in them.
Anyway, few of us Liberty Ballers writers met up in Philadelphia for our now-annual SB Nation Philly gathering when Matt Carey brought up this actual, not-Deadspin-definition abomination of an article by a Philadelphia Newspaper Columnist. Even doing a freaking Google search would have told you that Kirilenko is out for personal reasons, and has been since he played in Brooklyn, or that while he was there he would not be playing on the road, and eventually not at all.
Kirilenko's wife is pregnant with the couple's third child and has had fairly serious complications. That makes sense, given the information we had before, as he did not want to leave New York so as to be there with her. Of course, that would not stop hack newspaper columnist from attempting to crack a heinous joke.
Anyway, that brings us to Adrian Wojnarowski's latest non-signing article, which goes into detail on why Andrei Kirilenko is still a 76er, and the answer isn't surprising: the Sixers want him to play so they can trade him:
The Sixers want Kirilenko to start working his way back into playing condition and eventually be activated to play in games. Ultimately, this could set up the opportunity for Philadelphia to deal Kirilenko for an asset at the NBA's February trade deadline, or let him reclaim his market value for free agency this summer. Nevertheless, it is unlikely the Sixers would keep Kirilenko past the trade deadline - either hunting down a way to deal him for an asset, or simply waiving him.
Kirilenko, 33, wants the balance of the $3.3 million owed to him this season, and ultimately the freedom to sign elsewhere on a new deal this season, sources said. So far, he's been unwilling to join the rebuilding Sixers, who have the worst record in the league at 3-23, but he eventually could be mandated to report to the team to collect on his contract.
Kirilenko has a family medical issue that has kept him in the New York area since the trade, and that's been part of his desire to stay off the court in Philadelphia. Nevertheless, the Sixers believe their close proximity to New York - and the franchise's expressed willingness to be accommodating on the matter - should necessitate Kirilenko to come to Philadelphia and report to work, sources said.
So there are multiple forces at work:
1. Kirilenko really doesn't want to be away from home - see his lack of playing on the road, or not reporting to the team.
2. Kirilenko doesn't want to play for the Sixers.
3. Kirilenko would rather choose his next destination rather than get traded there.
4. Sam Hinkie wants a second round pick - which is a state of mind, not a specific desire.
Combining all these things, the whole Kirilenko acquisition is shaping up to be a messy affair - especially if the Sixers force Kirilenko to report within the next few weeks. To force a player to report, begin working out, travel away from his wife, and ask him to play well enough to have trade value when the *entire league* knows you'll waive him when you don't get a second rounder in return is more of a stretch than saying the aforementioned hack newspaper columnist went full Carmen Sandiego in his attempts to locate a person who is clearly at his home in New York.
In his pursuit of assets and draft picks, Sam Hinkie leaves no stone unturned. While you can't blame him for doing his job, and the lengths he'll go to for a chance at gaining an asset are impressive, given the sensitive nature of the situation and the seemingly low likelihood of gaining any reward, this might not be a bad time to back off the proverbial pedal.