Tony Parker tore a quadriceps tendon during the playoffs last season, and that not only had him out of the postseason but he was expected not to be back until January, maybe even closer to the All-Star break.
“I think he’s going to be ahead of schedule,” Popovich said. “I kept thinking he might be ready in January or something. He might be ready in December. He’s come along really well.”
The 35-year-old has said he is targeting a November return. Popovich, however, doesn’t want Parker to get too far ahead of schedule.
The Spurs re-signed Patty Mills last summer, in part because of the Parker injury but also because Mills was better than Paker last regular season. It was clear. Look at it this way, 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. Mills is a better defender than Parker at this point, which is key.
The question is will Parker back up Mills once he returns and gets his conditioning back, or will the Spurs return to the rotation where Parker starts and Mills comes off the bench but they have about equal minutes? Either way, Parker back sooner rather than later is better.