Utah Jazz: Challenged by the team's management, Andrei Kirilenko spent summer adding muscle mass
Asked how much Andrei Kirilenko weighs these days, Utah Jazz strength coach Mark McKown smiles mischievously.
"I think it's about 110 kilos," he said.
Ever since Kirilenko arrived in Utah as a skinny-looking 20-year-old, his weight has been the subject of widespread speculation and discussion.
Officially, Kirilenko has always weighed 225 pounds, although that is likely generous, especially by the end of a taxing NBA season.
Today, as he embarks on his ninth year with the Jazz, Kirilenko is again listed at 225 pounds in the team's preseason media guide.
After missing an average of 18 games over the last five years because of injuries, Kirilenko has bulked up during the summer.
He reported to training camp weight at 240 pounds, to the astonishment of at least one teammate.
"I was really shocked when I saw him," Memo Okur said. "I heard -- because I got here a month ago to start working out -- that he weighed more. Somebody told me he gained like 20 or 25 pounds and I was like, 'Did he?' "
Seeing is believing.
"He looks good," Okur said. "He seems healthy ... [and] it's good to see him like that. Hopefully, he will stay healthy because we are going to need him this year."
Kirilenko's physical improvement started at last season's exit meeting with general manager Kevin O'Connor and coach Jerry Sloan. Plagued by injuries that included a sprained finger and ankle inflammation that required minor surgery, Kirilenko missed 13 games in 2008-09.
"We challenged him to get himself a little stronger," O'Connor said. "I think he was always worried that he was going to lose quickness. But we said we didn't want him to look like Joe Palooka. That wasn't our intention.
"Our intention was to just get him stronger. I think at the end of the season, he really hurt himself by not being able to finish at the basket. Physically, at the weight he was at, he was run down a little bit."
In June, Kirilenko accompanied McKown and a few teammates to Santa Barbara, Calif., where he met with Dr. Marcus Elliott.
A Harvard-trained physician, Elliott runs the P3 Performance Team, which works on the physical development and improvement of elite athletes.
"We did some extensive testing and had some really nice, intense workouts," McKown said. "With the help of Dr. Elliott, we were able to design a program built around Andrei's specific needs ... so he can hold up to the rigors of the NBA."
From there, Kirilenko took over.
"I've been a couple of months in France -- working out, lifting, [doing] a lot of core stuff," he said. "... I'm ready right now."
Those around him are hopeful.
"He took the knowledge he gained from Dr. Elliott, went home and trained very hard, which is nice to see," McKown said. "That doesn't mean he hasn't trained hard in the past. But he hasn't trained this hard and this smart, I don't think."
The most noticeable difference in Kirilenko's body involves his chest, shoulders and arms. He's not the second coming of Karl Malone, but he's come a way from the 215-pound small forward who had a tough time standing up to physical defenses at the end of last season.
"You could see he had trouble," O'Connor said. "He got bounced around."
Said McKown: "He's definitely the strongest he's ever been, and that's nice because usually guys get to a certain point in their career and they plateau. They stay there and they think that's good enough."
McKown describes the 20 or more pounds Kirilenko has added as "good weight. It's not just body fat, which we've had happen to guys before."
Kirilenko admits his biggest concern about adding weight is its impact on one of his biggest assets on the court -- quickness.
"I definitely wanted to be a little stronger, [but] I wants to see how I can be quick at the same time," he said. "As long as I can keep this weight on and still run with it, I will be fine."
Said O'Connor: "If you look at it, it helps him in back-to-backs -- being a little stronger. It helps him finish around the basket and it helps him get through screens. Look, any time you get stronger and don't lose your quickness, you've become a better player."
Of course, a bigger Kirilenko gives Sloan more options.
With Carlos Boozer, Paul Millsap and Kirilenko, he might have three veterans capable of playing extended minutes at power forward.
"Actually, 'four' from an offensive standpoint is probably Andrei's better position," Sloan said. "So maybe we take a look at that. .. We'll figure out some way to put people out on the floor who can be effective."
In the meantime, Sloan likes Kirilenko's physical transformation
"He looks much stronger," he said. "His upper body looks good -- like he's put some strength on there. But we'll have to see how it works out ...
"One year, I remember, Thurl Bailey went out and gained a lot of weight. He really bulked up. But his 15-foot jumper started going about 10 feet, until he settled back in."
Feb. 18, 1981 » Born in Izhevsk, Russia
October, 1996 » Becomes the youngest player in Russian League history by playing three games for Spartak St. Petersburg at the age of 15
October, 1998 » Joins Russian League power CSKA
June 30, 1999 » Selected in the first round of the NBA Draft by the Jazz (24th overall)
Aug. 10, 2001 » Signs with the Jazz
Oct. 31, 2001 » Plays in first NBA game for the Jazz, who lost to Milwaukee in overtime, 119-112
Dec. 12, 2001 » Makes first career start against Indiana and finishes with 13 points and 10 rebounds
Feb. 9, 2002 » Selected to play in the Rookie Game during All-Star Weekend
Dec. 10, 2003 » Records the first of his three career 5x5 games with 10 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, six steals and five blocks against New York
Feb. 15, 2004 » In his only All-Star Game so far, he scores two points, grabs one rebound and blocks a shot in 12 minutes in the West's 136-132 win over the East in Los Angeles
Feb. 17, 2004 » Scores a career-high 31 points in a 97-85 loss at Miami
Oct. 24, 2004 » Signs a new six-year, $86 million contract
Jan. 17, 2006 » Registers the first of three career triple-doubles with 18 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists in a 111-98 win against Toronto
April 19, 2006 » Finishes the season as only the fourth player in NBA history to average over 15 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three blocks
Dec. 23, 2006 » Hands out the 1,000th assist of his career in a 100-97 win at Memphis
Feb. 14, 2007 » Registers the 1,000th block of his career during a 99-98 win over Cleveland
April 22, 2007 » Breaks down in tears while talking to the media because of his lack of playing time in Games 1 of a first-round playoff series at Houston
September 19, 2007 » After leading Russia to its first-ever EuroBasket championship and being name the FIBA European Player of the Year, he asks the Jazz for a trade
Dec. 27, 2008 » Ties his career-high by playing 49 minutes in a loss at Houston
He had trouble finishing around the basket and, notably, on the second night of back-to-back series.
He has added upper-body strength in the hopes of dealing with more physical defenses.