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Tony Parker estimates Kawhi Leonard will return to Spurs in 'a couple weeks'

SAN ANTONIO -- Star forward Kawhi Leonard made a rare appearance at the San Antonio Spurs' practice facility Monday, the same day veteran point guard Tony Parker discussed his upcoming season debut.

Parker, who will play Monday night against the Dallas Mavericks, worked out with Leonard while rehabilitating a torn quadriceps tendon. Parker said Leonard, a two-time All-Star, is close to returning to normal as he recovers from quadriceps tendinopathy.

Parker estimated Leonard would return to action "in a couple weeks, three weeks."

"He looked great," Parker said. "I was like, 'Oh, he's good. I forgot that he was that good.' Yeah, [he's] close. It's still going to be a process. Still, the Spurs aren't going to take [any] risks. It's still going to be, like I said, a couple of weeks, three weeks. They're not going to take any risks. But he's looking good so far. What he did with me, he's looking good."

Parker said he also worked out with future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan and Matt Bonner, who recently retired after playing the final 10 of his 12 NBA seasons in San Antonio.

Parker ruptured his left quadriceps tendon last season in the Western Conference semifinals against the Houston Rockets and underwent surgery. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said last week before the team's loss in New Orleans that "I think he'll be back very soon. For real, sooner than later. And I'm serious. I'm being honest."

Veteran guard Manu Ginobili mentioned Monday that Parker could have played "at least" two weeks ago. But Parker and the team carefully plotted his return.

Parker worked through a rehabilitation assignment in September with the Spurs' G League affiliate as he slowly worked on his cardiovascular conditioning. Parker said part of the reason he didn't try to return two weeks ago is because the team "is doing great."

"I could have [come back], but the team was doing well," Parker said. "A lot of guys were stepping up and playing good basketball. So I felt like I had some little stuff that I wanted to get better. Yeah, I could've [returned two weeks ago]. [But] they've been playing great basketball."

As for Parker's rehabilitation, the point guard feels "very lucky" his body "reacted very well to everything," which is somewhat the opposite of what Leonard is experiencing in his recovery. Popovich said earlier this month that Leonard's rehabilitation has "just been more difficult."

"As for Kawhi, it's a little different," Parker said. "But I still think he's like a couple of weeks away. He was looking good the last two or three practices he practiced with me. He was looking pretty good."

A two-time winner of the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year award, Leonard took on added responsibilities last season on offense and averaged career highs in points (25.5) and assists (3.5), while averaging 1.8 steals.

Leonard hasn't played a game for the Spurs since Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, when he suffered a sprained ankle.

Parker admitted to feeling "a little bit like a rookie, like it's my first game," after missing so much time headed into Monday's game against the Mavericks. He expects Popovich to place a restriction on his minutes, joking that "if I play 5 minutes, I'll be happy."

"Seven months is a long time," Parker said. "I'm just gonna go out there, and we'll see what happens. It definitely puts life in perspective because I love the game so much that when it's taken away like that, you see it differently. I think I will have more fun playing right now. After what happened and what I had to go through, I will definitely enjoy [the game] even more."

Author: Michael C. Wright, ESPN
Source: http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/21587878/tony-parker-estimates-kawhi-leonard-return-san-antonio-spurs-couple-weeks

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