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Kirilenko, Marion rumors get new life in exhibition

PHOENIX — After weeks worth of offseason rumors regarding a possible trade from Utah to Phoenix, Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko — in town for a preseason game against the Suns — was peppered with questions Monday about the latest state of his various frustrations.

"The whole situation, it was difficult, like long time ago," he said. "But, what I can say?"

Asked if matters still remain the same, Kirilenko nodded his head.

"It is difficult," he said, stopping there.

The opposite end of those aforementioned trade rumors, Phoenix All-Star forward Shawn Marion, wasn't about to get into a detailed discussion of the matter either.

Asked by Arizona reporters about having to listen to all the talk, Marion simply said, "Nope, nope. Wasn't hard at all."

Kirilenko finished with 11 points and nine rebounds Monday; Marion had 16 points in Phoenix's 124-101 win.

HE WROTE IT: The Chicago Tribune's Sam Smith, on the Kirilenko-to-Phoenix-for-Marion trade that never was consummated: "Hard to figure why this deal hasn't happened yet. Here are the NBA's two unhappiest stars this side of Kobe Bryant, and there's good reason for each team to make the deal."

More from Smith, former president of the Professional Basketball Writers Association: "And while his Suns teammates like Marion, Kirilenko would be a terrific fit for (Phoenix). He's taller, he offers more of a defensive presence inside and he's practically screaming for a milder coach, such as D'Antoni, after putting up with hard-edged Jerry Sloan.

"Marion, meanwhile, would give the Jazz an athletic complement to inside/outside big men (Carlos) Boozer and (Mehmet) Okur and a defender who can guard a shooting guard, currently a big weakness. Marion could make the Jazz a legitimate championship contender. How could Utah pass up the chance?"

Part of the snag when the deal, in its infancy, was discussed this past offseason was that the Jazz did not want to take on the contract of reserve point guard Marcus Banks, the Dixie State College product who has $17.3 million and four full seasons remaining on a deal that pays $3.89 million this season.

Phoenix supposedly later offered Marion straight up for Kirilenko.

Utah is believed to have rejected the proposed deal, which actually was thought to be a bit more complicated than that, including both cash and draft picks.

SMITH ON WILLIAMS: Smith, who covered Monday's game in Phoenix, also wrote that a "virtually unprecedented attack on Kirilenko by teammate Deron Williams ... made Bryant's disparaging comments about his Lakers teammates seem like greeting-card sentiments."

Williams previously admitted to not passing the ball to Kirilenko last season, saying in a radio interview that "guys don't want to sit across the locker room from a guy who doesn't want to be here."

MISC.: Williams went hard to the floor on a flagrant foul committed by Suns rookie DJ Strawberry, but afterward said the right wrist he was shaking felt fine ... Former Jazz guard Raja Bell with 24 points that included 8-of-10 shooting from the field, 5-of-6 from 3-point range ... As expected, Jazz forward Matt Harpring (knee, ankle surgery rebab) did not play. ... Also as expected, Jazz shooting guard C.J. Miles was back after missing last Saturday's game at Milwaukee to mourn the death of his maternal grandmother in Texas. Miles played 19 minutes off the bench and missed all four of his shots from the field ... Jazz free-agent forward Donnell Harvey (intestinal flu) did not dress for a fourth straight preseason game ... The Suns were without starting big man Amare Stoudemire, who remains about a week away from practicing following Oct. 1 arthroscopic knee surgery.


E-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com