Andrei Kirilenko was back with the Utah Jazz at this morning's shootaround.
So, too, were a herd of media types asking the team if the Russian's absence from Thursday's practice would be a distraction for the Jazz leading up to tonight's Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Kirilenko received permission from the Jazz to deal with visa issues Thursday for his wife and another family member, who plan to travel in Europe this summer. While his teammates practiced the morning after Wednesday's 111-104 loss, putting L.A. up 3-2, Kirilenko flew to the embassy in San Francisco to sort out his family's traveling paperwork details.
At shootaround, the Jazz seemed more bothered by questions than about Kirilenko's detour.
"I want to talk about the game tonight, man. Talk about the game tonight," said Jazz guard Deron Williams, who complained after the Western Conference Finals last year about teammates already being on vacation.
"I think it is (resolved)," he added. "Everything's fine."
Jazz coach Jerry Sloan claimed the situation was his fault, presumably because Kirilenko thought practice was going to be at 10 a.m. and made flight plans to the Bay Area for after that. Because Wednesday's game was late and the Jazz didn't arrive back in Salt Lake City until the middle of the night, Sloan pushed back the time of practice until 11:30 a.m.
"That was a total misunderstanding on my part with him and there's not any problems with it at all," Sloan said this morning at EnergySolutions Arena. "I don't think you should be upset with him. You should be upset with me if you have a problem with it."
Kirilenko didn't know why everybody was making such a fuss. His agent, Marc Fleisher, said he had to apply for traveling visas last year, too.
"If we have a practice at 10 o'clock I would have make the practice, but we moved it a little bit late so I couldn't make it," he said this morning. "I don't know for some reason you're trying to make it a distraction, but it's just a small problem. I don't see it as something. I spoke with the coach this morning before the game in Los Angeles, so it was cool."
Sloan explained to the Jazz where Kirilenko was at Thursday's practice, and Kirilenko addressed them today.
"We concentrate on the game and we'll try to play as hard as possible, that's the main thing," Kirilenko said. "I talked with teammates. They understand, and it's not a problem at all. ... We have a great relationship on the team. Everybody supports each other."
Okur also gave a "no comment" comment, while Carlos Boozer and Matt Harpring said the Jazz are more worried about the Lakers than where in the world Kirilenko was Thursday.
"We think he'll be ready to play. He had to go take care of some personal stuff, and he's back now," Boozer said. "He had a good shootaround. I feel like he was focused, ready to go tonight. I think he'll be ready. I'm not concerned."
Ditto from Harpring.
"The situation's resolved and we're moving on. He had something that he had to do," Harpring said. "In a long season like this sometimes things come up where you have personal reasons where you have to go and that was one of his situations yesterday.
"It's certainly not a distraction," Harpring added. "I think everyone was OK with it and we're focused on the game."
For the record, Kirilenko said he got all the paperwork taken care of, so his family can now take their European vacation.The Jazz just hope he can't take it for a few more weeks.
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