On Thursday, Andrei Kirilenko signed what appeared to be a $3.18 million mid-level exception with the Brooklyn Nets. This came just weeks after Kirilenko opted out of a contract which would pay him $10 million in the final year of his deal. The acquisition of Kirilenko is a steal for the Nets, but to other NFL general managers already skeptical of Prokhorov, the deal between the two Russians reeks. Still stuck in the Cold War mentality, most GMS are under the impression that Kirilenko and Prokhorov may have made an under-the-table arrangement to mask their true currency exchange.
"Brazen," one Western Conference GM told Yahoo! Sports.
"Let's see if the league has any credibility," one NBA owner told Yahoo! Sports. "It's not about stopping it. It's about punishing them if they're doing it."
Another Eastern Conference GM: "There should be a probe. How obvious is it?"
The telephone calls and text messages kept coming on Thursday night and Friday morning, and the reason was simple: Few trust Prokhorov to honor the NBA's salary-cap rules and regulations. He made his $15 billion fortune in the wild 1990s in Russia in what he called, "cowboy territory with no sheriff." Bribes were part of the business culture, and Prokhorov confessed to his part in it.
Unfortunately, this is about what they can prove, not what they believe. However, Kirilenko's deal isn't as cheap on Prokhorov's end. Because the Nets are currently over the luxury tax, the deal will require them to pay $16.7 million in salary next season.