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Kirilenko optimistic deal near

No agreement yet, but sides appear eager to get it done

Andrei Kirilenko says he's "more than 90 percent" certain a deal will be reached.
Andrei Kirilenko says he's "more than 90 percent" certain a deal will be reached.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret Morning News

The deal is not done. At least not yet.

That was the word Friday from all parties involved in negotiating a contract extension for Jazz All-Star forward Andrei Kirilenko, who nonetheless seems confident a formal agreement will soon be reached.

"I have not signed the deal, but I think we're getting closer and closer," Kirilenko said before a 13-point, seven-rebound, seven-assist, four-block effort in the Jazz's 101-88 preseason win over Sacramento on Friday night at the Delta Center.

"I think we're working out some details — but I'll be happy when I sign it," he added. "In my opinion, it's almost figured out — and I think we're almost done."

ESPNInsider.com's Chad Ford reported Friday that an agreement indeed had been reached: "Sources told Insider late Thursday that the two sides had agreed to a deal . . . (on) . . . a full six-year $86 million extension."

Both sides, however, adamantly denied that that is the case.

"We have no deal in principle," said Jazz basketball operations senior vice president Kevin O'Connor, who seemed somewhat miffed by the report.

"We've talked, and there's been things thrown back and forth," he added, "but we have no deal."

Kirilenko's Connecticut-based agent, Marc Fleisher, essentially said the same: "We're not done. That's all I can tell you," Fleisher told the Associated Press. "There's only nine days left, so I'm hopeful we can get it done in time."

If a deal is not struck by Oct. 31, Kirilenko would become a restricted free agent next summer.

"Obviously time's becoming a little bit short now," said O'Connor, who added he definitely plans to continue his talks with Fleisher.

Kirilenko, for his part, does not seem to be nearly as concerned about the pending deadline: "We have time," he said. "We have time."

In fact, Kirilenko seems quite intent on re-signing before the end of the month — and suggested that in "the next few days" everything could be finalized.

The 23-year-old Russian even said he now is "more than 90" percent sure that will happen, a sense that is quite a drastic turnaround from the state of negotiations around this same time last week.

"I want to be part of this organization forever, for the end of my career," Kirilenko, breaking a self-imposed ban on talking about the talks, said Friday. "I love the fans, I love coaches, the team — new-looking team, everybody's great. I don't want to leave. I want to be here."

The Jazz are looking for some sort of discount from the $86 million Kirilenko is seeking, but Kirilenko's camp so far has held firm in its demand for a max-money extension.

It's possible the sides will come to terms by agreeing to defer some of the money involved — thereby lowering the Jazz's immediate financial commitment, but still allowing Kirilenko to earn the sort of money he is seeking.

Asked if he expects to get everything he is looking for, Kirilenko first shrugged his shoulders, than offered a mixed response.

"Yes," he said. "I mean, it should be. You know?

"It's like, they should understand that that's NBA — and you try to step movement a little bit, and Jazz try to step movement a little bit. But I think we negotiate very well, and we're almost done."

In other words, there may be some give-and-take from both sides.

O'Connor would not comment on specific details of what is being discussed. But the Jazz exec did leave room for hope the extension will get signed, even if not in the next day or two.

"Anytime you can keep talking," he said, "you like to think you can get something done.

"We," O'Connor added, "would like to get something done."


E-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com