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Andrei Kirilenko unlikely to play in Nets' season opener

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrei Kirilenko, of Russia, drives

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrei Kirilenko, of Russia, drives against the Oklahoma City Thunder. (Jan. 9, 2013) Credit: AP

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Andrei Kirilenko hasn't been ruled out for the Nets' season opener in Cleveland on Wednesday, but it isn't looking good.

Kirilenko, who has been suffering from back spasms, didn't practice Monday. The 6-9 forward said after the Nets practiced that he wanted to join them in the season opener, but he needed to get a five-on-five practice under his belt before doing so. Tuesday will be his last opportunity to do that.

"Tomorrow we will try to do more contact and see how it goes from there," he said. "Right now, it's day-to-day."

Kirilenko's back kept him out of the Nets' final five preseason games. He said that it had been improving until a setback at the Nets' open practice nine days ago.

Kirilenko, who has averaged 12.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.9 blocks in an 11-year NBA career, was considered an excellent addition to the Nets' bench when he opted out of the last year of his contract with the Timberwolves this summer and signed with the Nets for their $3.1-million mini-mid-level exception. His health could be a big X-factor as coach Jason Kidd is looking to use him to spell a wide range of frontcourt players.

Said Kirilenko: "I want to play. When you miss a week or two weeks, you want to get back. It's not fun."

Notes & quotes:

Kidd, who will be suspended for the first two games of the season, said he will travel to Cleveland with the team for the season opener and watch the game on television with a friend . . . Deron Williams, who is working his way back from an ankle injury, had a scheduled day off Monday. Shaun Livingston (stiff neck) and Paul Pierce (bruised toe) did not practice but are expected to be fine for Wednesday's game.

New York Sports