- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN Staff Writer
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- In an encouraging development for the Brooklyn Nets, point guard Deron Williams participated Tuesday in 5-on-5 half-court contact drills for the first time since training camp began.
"It was good to get back out there," said Williams, who is still recovering from a sprained right ankle injury he suffered during an offseason workout in Utah. "It was only for like 15-20 minutes, but to do contact, 5-on-5 half-court, you're not part of the cheerleading squad. So it was definitely good to be out there."
Williams will not play in Wednesday night's preseason game in Boston and doesn't expect to play in the team's preseason final Friday night in Miami. That means he will not play at all in the preseason.
"I don't see it (playing Friday) because of how slowly (trainer) Timmy (Walsh) is progressing me," Williams said. "How do you go from playing 15-20 minutes of practice to going up and down (in a game)?"
Williams plans on participating in Wednesday's morning shootaround. He thinks it will be a big test for his ankle to see how it responds after doing so much Tuesday.
"I'm just gonna ice (and do) everything I've been doing," he said. "When I leave here it's usually fine. It was sore the last couple days. I took yesterday off and today it felt better. Like I said, tomorrow's going to be telling, because this is the most I've done. So if it feels great tomorrow, just keep progressing."
"I didn't feel in sync at all because I haven't played basketball (full-go)," Williams said. "But it felt good to get out there."
Williams says it's a bit troubling that his first game could be the regular-season opener Oct. 30 in Cleveland, but "it's how it is."
Williams has appreciated the support he's gotten from Garnett and Pierce.
"They're talking to me even though they know I'm frustrated," he said. "They want me out there, but at the same time they know how important it is to be healthy at the end. They want me to take my time and they've told me to come back when I'm ready."
Nets coach Jason Kidd said Williams looked "rusty," but Kidd was also encouraged at the same time.
"I think it's great. I think we put a plan in place and he's following it," Kidd said. "But the biggest thing is his body is responding. So for him to be able to do 5-on-5 with the first group is always promising. We've been waiting, but we have to be patient."
Also on the injury front, forward Andrei Kirilenko will not travel with the team this week because his back spasms flared up again.
"We hope that him being able to get some rest will help with the spasms and he'll be able to go opening night (in Cleveland)," Kidd said.
As previously reported, Garnett (rest) and Pierce (rest) will not play in Boston on Wednesday night.
"There will be quite a few guys off tomorrow, and we'll see on Thursday what we're gonna do Friday," Kidd said.
Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.