We haven’t expected to see Tony Parker on the court until 2018, maybe as late as the All-Star break, after he suffered a ruptured left quadriceps tendon during the playoffs. Parker had surgery and has said multiple times he would be back around January.
Except he may beat that timeline, Spurs teammate Danny Green told French site LCI, as reported by NBC 4 in San Antonio.
“He (Tony Parker) obviously had a tough injury last year but he’s recovering. He’s a couple of months ahead of schedule… I don’t want to leak anything but he might be playing a lot sooner than people think he’s playing.
“He’s been doing his rehab like a monster, like a maniac. He’s been working out like a maniac and mentally he’s really focused and trying to get his body healthy and get it right. You’ll probably be seeing Tony playing a lot sooner than what most people expect him to be back by.”
That’s certainly good news, but the Spurs are not going to rush Parker back. They don’t need to.
Here’s the reality: Patty Mills was better than Paker last season. There are plenty of stats (or the eyeball test) to back that up, but here is the best one: The other four primary starters for the Spurs last season (LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol, Kawhi Leonard, and Danny Green) were more than 16 points per 100 possessions better when teamed with Mills instead of Parker (admittedly there are some small sample size issues there, and in the playoffs they were much better with Parker).
The Spurs could use Parker back because after Mills — who was re-signed this summer — they have Dejounte Murray at the point, and Paker is an improvement there. Might Popovich try to start Murray and bring Mills off the bench to start the season, then swap in Parker on his return? Maybe, or maybe Mills just starts, but either way, Mills will get the larger share of minutes (and would close games).
However it works out, for the first few months of the season more Mills is not a bad thing. The Spurs are going to keep on winning, and likely at a faster pace than Las Vegas predicts (the Spurs under/over is 54.5, they won 61 games last season and bring virtually everyone back).