EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Brooklyn Nets small forward Andrei Kirilenko, who was working with the starters on the first day of training camp, has tightness in his lower back, which he believes could keep him out for the next 7-10 days.
Kirilenko missed 25 straight games early last season due to back spasms. Overall, he missed 37 games in 2013-14 due to injury.
“I mean I’m trying to be positive,” Kirilenko, who worked with the training staff to strengthen his back in the offseason, said Sunday. “If I can get it out [of the way] right now there’s a whole season in front of us. It’s kind of -- I don’t want to say it’s the right time -- but it’s better now than in the middle of the season when you start missing games, especially the NBA season's games go night by night and you start missing games. Probably right now it’s better to miss these days now.”
Kirilenko has been dealing with back problems over the last eight seasons. He and the team wanted to take precautions and be proactive so it doesn’t linger.
Kirilenko said he began feeling the tightness on Saturday, but doesn’t think it was from practice, which he said was light.
“I don’t feel any pain right now,” he said. “I just feel tightness only. Yesterday I started feeling it so I told [trainer Tim Walsh] and we kinda started to slow it down a little bit so we wouldn’t get to the point where it was completely sore.”
Kirilenko was working with fellow starters Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez at practice. The veteran said he wants to get consistent minutes this season -- whether it’s starting or coming off the bench -- but that could be difficult if his back injuries continue.
Kirilenko likes that coach Lionel Hollins has put in a lot of similar-type motion offense sets that Kirilenko ran when he was in Utah.
“The way we were moving, the way the ball moves [reminded me of Utah],” he said. “We talked a lot about my experience with the Jazz, how I ran in the offense, how Deron ran the offense, so it’s just a feeling. Again, it’s not necessarily the Jazz offense, it’s just like a little ways it looks like it or feels like it.”
Kirilenko doesn’t know if he’ll be available for the team’s first preseason game on Oct. 7. He plans to rest and get some doctor-prescribed medication to help his back in the meantime.
“It’s very hard to say. I hope so,” he said. “Right now, I’m in this kinda position I don’t really know what’s gonna happen the next five to six days. This is a very important time to maintain it.”