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Is Andrei Kirilenko hinting of a Christmas return?

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Andrei Kirilenko/ Instagram

Andrei Kirilenko has one of those injuries that keeps a player out so long fans forget about him --or discount reports of his return. There are other issues besides said player's injury that must be dealt with on the fans' checklist.

On Saturday, though, there was a glimmer of hope. Kirilenko appeared on the Nets practice court in East Rutherford, announcing it with a picture on Instagram. The caption, in both English and Russian, said simply, "starting on the court ... finally." What caught our eye was that AK-47 was wearing the Nets' Christmas Day jersey. Was he hinting he might be returning for the noon game that day vs. the Bulls?

On Sunday, Billy King did nothing to tamp down speculation, tweeting out a picture of AK-47 at the PNY Center.

Kirilenko told Devin Kharpertian of The Brooklyn Game two days ago that he was still "10 days" away from a return following a bout with the worst back spasms of his career, which he has treated with both acupuncture and an epidural.  Ten days from Friday is December 22.

Jason Kidd hasn't said much about Kirilenko's return, possibly because he almost returned two weeks ago then had to recede because the spasms flared up.  "Hopefully (he'll play) sometime in 2013," Kidd said. "But if he comes back sometime in 2014, that'd be fine too." AK-47 has already missed more games so far this season than he did all of last year.