Andrei Kirilenko unlikely to play in season opener

Andrei Kirilenko missed the final five preseason games with back spasms. AP Photo.

Andrei Kirilenko missed the final five preseason games with back spasms. AP Photo.

Early in training camp there was a long list of Brooklyn Nets that weren’t participating, but now just a day away from the start of the season all but one player practiced with Shaun Livingston, who is nursing a stiff neck, being the only one to sit out.

Yes, that means Andrei Kirilenko was out there today practicing for the first time in weeks. Kirilenko has been dealing with back spasms that just won’t go away, but on Tuesday he participated in the full five-on-five. Unfortunately this does not mean that he’s going to be ready to go on opening night against the Cavaliers on Wednesday.

“Right now, it’s too early to say anything,” Kirilenko said. “But I’m aiming for Friday. Tomorrow’s game is unlikely.”

This is a great sign that he expects to be able to play on Friday, but it would be nice if he could go right away. Most likely, he wants to wait and see how the back feels the day after a full practice before declaring anything one way or another.

When it comes down to it, back injuries are tricky and it’s probably just best to give him as much rest as he needs. Obviously one game, especially against the Cavaliers, is not going to make or break the Nets season and having a healthy Kirilenko would go a long way toward improving it. So even though he’s leaving open a window to play on Wednesday it still seems like he’s an option for Friday at the earliest.