|Manu Ginobili is expected to return next week. (Getty Images)|
Things are looking up for San Antonio Spurs All-Star guard Manu Ginobili.
MySanAntonio.com reports that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told reporters on Monday that Ginobili, who has been sidelined since Jan. 2 after breaking a bone in his left hand, is nearing a return.
“The doctors say he’s healed and healthy,” Popovich said before the Spurs’ 89-84 win over the Grizzlies. “It’s just a matter of conditioning and timing, rhythm and confidence, all those things right now.The original timetable for Ginobili's return was 6-8 weeks. If he indeed returns next week, that would put him at the lower end of the original estimate.
“I’d expect him in the next week or so.”
When Ginobili does return, Popovich said he’s leaning toward bringing the former Sixth Man of the Year off the bench in order to ease him into game action.
In typical Spurs fashion, the team weathered what looked like a disaster on paper and kept right on winning in Ginobili's absence. Entering Tuesday's action, San Antonio sat atop the Southwest Division with a record of 17-9. The Spurs are 14-7 since Ginobili went down, making due thanks to talented rookie Kawhi Leonard, Gary Neal and Danny Green.
Ginobili, 34, averaged 17.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game in his five appearances before suffering the injury. He was named to the 2011 All-Star team and All-NBA third team last season.