The frustration’s mounting for Brooklyn Nets forward Andrei Kirilenko, who now says he’ll need at least ten more days before he returns to the court — if that.
“I’m definitely getting better every day. From this point, it’s very tough to give a timetable. Probably ten days,” Kirilenko told The Brooklyn Game before Thursday night’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Ten days would mark his earliest return as December 23rd against the Indiana Pacers, but Kirilenko made it clear that ten days isn’t a hard-and-fast timetable. “Oh, I don’t know (if I’ll play),” he added. “At this point, we’ll see how it goes after those ten days.”
Kirilenko has seen significant progress recently. He’s been cleared to start motion training, which he’ll start Saturday after the team returns from their one-day trip to face the Detroit Pistons. He’s only done stationary training since his back last spasmed. That’s a significant step for a player who’s game relies so much on cutting and constant motion on both ends of the floor.
Kirilenko has played just 53 minutes in four games, his last playing time coming November 8th, over a month ago. He’s fighting back spasms that he’s called the worst of his career. He suffered the spasms in preseason, floating in and out of practices and games ever since.
Nets coach Jason Kidd didn’t sound optimistic about Kirilenko’s return. “Hopefully (he’ll play) sometime in 2013,” Kidd said, unable to provide any training staff updates. “But if he comes back sometime in 2014, that’d be fine too.”
With Paul Pierce fighting a broken hand and Kirilenko out, the Nets have a sudden dearth at the wing position, a spot they expected to be one of their strengths this season. They’re currently starting final signee Alan Anderson next to Joe Johnson, with Pierce coming off the bench wearing a protective glove. They expected Kirilenko to be their do-it-all sixth man, but with an injured back, he’s not sure when he’ll be 100% again.
“I forgot how to play basketball for the last month,” Kirilenko told The Brooklyn Game. “Like basketball is in and out, in and out, it’s very frustrating because it takes you out of the rhythm. You start getting those game decisions, that game rhythm. And after another month it’s going to be tough to get back and start playing at the level you want.”