Forward Andrei Kirilenko is reportedly negotiating a deal to return to professional Russian team Spartak St. Petersburg.
Kirilenko's agent, Marc Fleisher, made no mention about his client signing with Spartak when contacted Wednesday.
Kirilenko, 30, began his pro career in St. Petersburg. He made his debut during 1996-97 as a 15-year-old, and was the youngest athlete to ever play in the Russian League.
While Kirilenko said several times last season that he would consider ending his career in Russia, he also stated a clear preference to remain in the NBA during the next few years. Moreover, Kirilenko's mention that he might retire after the 2011 EuroBasket tournament is at odds with statements he made multiple times last season, when he expressed interest in extending his career several more years.
It's already been a busy offseason for Kirilenko, and attention about his future should only increase during the coming months. He added an impressive new tattoo during May, has already spent significant time overseas since the 2010-11 NBA season ended, and will compete for Russia in EuroBasket 2011.
Kirilenko has played all 10 of his NBA seasons with Jazz, but he'll be an unrestricted free agent once the lockout ends.
Brian T. Smith