Popovich: Parker to Start vs Dallas; Leonard ‘Making Progress’

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SAN ANTONIO, TX - DECEMBER 30: Tony Parker #9 of the San Antonio Spurs drives to the basket against Mason Plumlee #24 of the Portland Trail Blazers during the game on December 30, 2016 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)

AT&T CENTER – After missing 19 games of the 2017-18 regular season, San Antonio Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich said point guard Tony Parker will start in his season debut this against the Dallas Mavericks Monday evening.

“He’ll start,” said Popovich of Parker. “I’m just glad he’s back. So we’ll play him for a minute and a half.”

Popovich indicated Parker will be on a minutes restriction as the Spurs ease him back in.

“Well there’s definitely a minute restriction, there’s always that.”

When asked what he’s expecting from Parker in his first game back, Popovich joked, “30 and 10.”

With the Spurs holding the third best record in the Western Conference despite not having Parker and Kawhi Leonard so far this season, Popovich said the Spurs don’t have to rely on Parker the way they would have had to during his prime.

“Tony’s a good player, but he’s not 24,” said Popovich. “He’s not going to come in and score 36 and make it easy for us. What he does is give us more basketball corporate knowledge that we don’t have right now. Some decision making, some depth, where other guys don’t have to play as many minutes as they’ve had to. All those things are a real plus with having Tony back.”

At shootaround Monday, Parker revealed that as he was working to get back on the court, he played a few scrimmages with Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan, and Matt Bonner.

When asked if Leonard is progressing, Popovich said he’s indeed heading in the right direction to making his way back onto the court.

“He’s getting very close and making progress,” said Popovich of Leonard. “He’s having contact now. Hopefully we’ll get him back shortly.”

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