Veteran point guard Tony Parker will play for the first time this season when the San Antonio Spurs take on the Dallas Mavericks Monday. Parker missed the Spurs’ first 19 games this season as he recovered from a torn quadriceps tendon in his left leg, which he suffered during the Western Conference Semifinals last season against the Houston Rockets. Parker’s return came a month early since he was not expected to play until late December or January. The 35-year-old Parker announced his return on his Twitter account, saying he’s excited to play again after some tough months with a lot of recovery, patience and mental strength.

Parker also thanked those who supported and believed in his return, including the Spurs front office, coaching staff and teammates. Last season, Parker averaged 10.1 points and 4.5 assists in 25.2 minutes per game.

While Parker was recovering, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich never gave a timetable for his point guard’s return. However, Spurs teammate Danny Green said that Parker might return earlier than expected because of his fast recovery. It is yet to be known if Popovich will start Parker immediately or will use him temporarily as a reserve. During his absence, Patty Mills and Dejounte Murray handled point guard duties for the Spurs.

Mills averaged 8.6 points and 3.5 assists per outing while Murray tallied 7.6 points and 4.8 boards per game.

Leonard’s return still uncertain

Parker and Kawhi Leonard both have the same injury, but the point guard’s recovery went faster compared to Leonard's, which puzzles Popovich. According to Popovich, in his 40 years of coaching, he has never seen an injury like the one Leonard has, per Michael C.

Wright of ESPN. Popovich earlier estimated that Leonard might return in November, but until now he had yet to provide clear details of his star player’s status. Leonard missed all of the preseason due to his quadriceps tendinopathy. Last season, Leonard was a finalist for the MVP trophy after averaging 25.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per outing, leading the Spurs to the Western Conference Finals.

However, he suffered an ankle injury in Game 1 against the Golden State Warriors, who swept the series en route to their third NBA Finals appearance.

Spurs beat Hornets

Despite Leonard’s absence, the Spurs have managed to remain contenders in the West with a 12-7 mark. On Saturday, they defeated the Charlotte Hornets, 106-86, behind 17 points each from LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol. Rudy Gay added 15 points, Kyle Anderson had 14, Manu Ginobili tallied 11 and Mills scored 10 for the Spurs.