Andrei Kirilenko made all kinds of headlines when he agreed to an outrageously cheap contract to join the Brooklyn Nets in the off-season, but it appears as if his debut with the team will be on hold for a few more days.
Andrei Kirilenko, on his health: “Right now, it’s too early to say anything. But I’m aiming for Friday. Tomorrow’s game is unlikely.” #Nets
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) October 29, 2013
Kirilenko has dealt with a back injury during training camp, and according to his own quotes above (via the Nets official Twitter account), he is unlikely to suit up when the Nets take on the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday. In fairness to Kirilenko, it would almost be silly to rush him back, as Brooklyn clearly is putting together a team with more long-term aspirations, but it does raise questions regarding his oft-injured status in recent seasons.
Last year, “AK-47″ played extremely well (17.67 PER, 12.4 points, 5.7 rebounds per game) in Minnesota, but he appeared in only 64 games with the club. In fact, Kirilenko hasn’t played over 72 games in a season since his 2nd year in the league (2002-2003) and while a 70-game slate isn’t exactly sparse action, he certainly hasn’t been an ironman.
Brooklyn is absolutely loaded in the front-court with Brook Lopez, Kevin Garnett, and Andray Blatche while having guys like Paul Pierce and Joe Johnson on the wing, and with that, there’s no rush here. If Kirilenko’s thoughts are true, we’ll see him on the court on Friday, and then the entire NBA can go back to ridiculing him for signing a 2-year, $6.5 million deal after opting out of a $10 million option in Minnesota.