DALLAS - San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard will make his 2017-18 season debut against the Dallas Mavericks.
"Kawhi is back tonight," head coach Gregg Popovich said, following the Spurs' shootaround at the American Airlines Center.
Leonard has missed the Spurs' first 27 games this season while recovering from right quadriceps tendinopathy. His minutes will be limited as the Spurs ease their franchise player back into the lineup.
"Any team would like to have one of their best players back. That's fairly logical," Popovich said. "The team's been playing well. We hope that it will continue as Tony and Kawhi get more minutes. There will be adjustments all the way around. Minutes will be different for different players. Just typical. It's not that complicated."
Without Leonard, the Spurs went 19-8 and own the third-best record in the Western Conference behind the Houston Rockets and the Golden State Warriors.
So, what's the bar now for the Spurs?
"Is to keep improving," Manu Ginobili said. "We played a certain way the first third of the season. Now we have to readjust to playing with him (Leonard)."
Star guard Tony Parker returned at the end of November from a ruptured quadriceps tendon and was sharp in his debut, which, ironically, was also against the Mavericks, at home on Nov. 27.
So what does Manu expect from Kawhi?
"With Kawhi, it's a mystery," Manu told reporters. "He is talented enough, he's gifted enough to just start strong. He's never been through a seven-month period without playing. He hasn't practiced once with the team. It's a question mark. We haven't practiced in a month. We haven't scrimmaged in a long time. He's practicing a lot with guys who don't play much, or the video guys, stuff like that. But not with the team during a full scrimmage."
Leonard was not made available to the media during Tuesday morning's shootaround.
Popovich also said shooting guard Danny Green will return after recovering from tightness in his left groin.
KSAT-12 has a crew in Dallas with the latest Spurs news from Larry Ramirez live from the American Airlines Center for the 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. newscasts.
The Spurs-Mavericks tipoff is at 7:30 p.m.
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