Andrei Kirilenko is back in Minnesota where he played some of his ball over the last five years, shooting better than 50 percent for the first time in his career and averaging 12.4 points and 5.9 rebounds a game, his highest totals in six years. He also guarded the opponent's best player.
But like last year, he's troubled by back spasms and he won't be returning to the court at the Target Center. He's already missed seven games, half of what he missed all last year.
"I’m very suspicious to give you any day [for a return date]," Kirilenko told Tim Bontemps. "If it’s my will, I would play now. I feel great. But looking back, and reinjuring and coming back with an injury, we want to give the full time the doctor said and get back slowly. … It’s difficult [to be patient] right now."
AK-47 is still recovering a bit from last week's epidural, which offers relief but takes about 10 to 12 days to wear off. He's also been dealing with a chiropractor and working with Tim Walsh and the team's medical staff. Whenever he's back, it will be a welcome relief because Kirilenko can help the team with a number of issues, including defense and a lot of offensive intangibles like being in the right place at the right time. That helps chemistry.
Meanwhile in Minnesota, they're happy Kirilenko declined his $10 million player option, which permitted the T-Wolves to sign Corey Brewer and Kevin Martin, both of whom have been big parts of the team's success.
"Those two guys have made a huge difference," said Rick Adelman, the T-Wolves coach. "We needed perimeter help. Corey’s energy and the way he plays has really helped. And, of course, Kevin Martin, I knew what we were getting there. Adding those two guys is a pretty good addition for us."
- The missing ’Lenko: New Net making strides on his way back - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- With Kirilenko injured, Wolves appreciate their good fortune - Jerry Zgoda - Minneapolis Star-Tribune