Parker ruptured his left quadriceps tendon last season during San Antonio's 121-96 win over the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference semifinals, and he underwent surgery. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said Wednesday before the team's loss in New Orleans that "I think [Parker will] be back very soon. For real, sooner than later. And I'm serious. I'm being honest."
Parker, 35, and the team carefully plotted the point guard's return. Parker participated in a rehabilitation assignment with the team's G League affiliate in September, as he slowly worked himself back into proper cardiovascular conditioning. Parker mentioned early on during the recovery process that he expected to return to the court in January.
But when Parker returned in late September for training camp medically cleared to practice, the veteran accelerated the timeline, saying he would like to return sometime in November.
Doctors cleared Parker in September, but the Spurs typically take a cautious approach when bringing players back from injury.
"They cleared me, but it's still going to be, like, another, I think, two months to get back in shape and getting my leg stronger," Parker told Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated in September. The severity of Parker's injury left pundits to ponder whether it was a career-ender, but the veteran said he never considered retirement.
The Spurs never issued a specific timeline for Parker's return.
"I was more frustrated because I was playing so well and the team was playing well," Parker told The Undefeated. "We were getting ready to play the Warriors in the conference finals, and it was just frustrating. Never in my mind was I sad or I thought I would never come back. All those people were saying that. But I didn't even listen, because I was more frustrated that I couldn't be there for my team in the conference finals. That was the most frustrating for me. The rest, for me, in my mind, I was coming back. There was no way I wasn't coming back."
Parker's return certainly bolsters a depleted lineup missing its most talented starter in star forward Kawhi Leonard, who is still recovering from quadriceps tendinopathy. Popovich said he's "never" encountered the conditions suffered by Parker and Leonard.
"What's really strange is that [point guard] Tony [Parker] has the same injury, but even worse," Popovich said. "They had to go operate on his quad tendon and put it back together or whatever they did to it. So, to have two guys, that's pretty incredible. I had never seen it before those guys."
Leonard hasn't played a game for the Spurs since Game 1 of the Western Conference finals, a series he missed due to a sprained ankle.
Information from ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski was used in this report.