November 11, 2016

NEW ORLEANS (AP) New Orleans Pelicans starting point guard Jrue Holiday plans to end his leave of absence next week and rejoin the team prepared to play immediately, two people familiar with the situation said Friday.

The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because there has been no official announcement about Holiday's planned return, which was first reported by Yahoo.

The Pelicans announced this past summer that Holiday would take indefinite leave because his wife, Lauren, was pregnant and in need of brain surgery on a benign tumor.

Lauren Holiday, a retired international soccer star, gave birth in late September and had surgery last month.

The Pelicans, who host the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night, have lost eight of their first nine regular-season games.

Holiday has been staying with his wife and child in the Raleigh-Durham area in North Carolina, where Lauren Holiday's surgery was performed by Duke University medical specialists. The people who spoke to AP said Holiday has been working out there with personal trainers and has been in constant touch with the Pelicans coaching staff, which has been sending him video of every game since the start of preseason to allow him to study the plays the Pelicans are running and help him remain familiar with the individual games of the teammates he'll soon rejoin.

Holiday is expected to return as healthy as he has been in several seasons.

He began last season on minute restrictions following his rehabilitation from a nagging lower leg injury that had sidelined him for much of the 2013-14 and 2014-15 campaigns.

A former Eastern Conference All-Star with Philadelphia before his trade to New Orleans in 2013, Holiday wound up playing in 65 games with 23 starts during the 2015-16 season, averaging 16.8 points, 6.0 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 28.2 minutes per game. He scored 20 or more points 25 times and recorded six double-doubles.

He'll soon rejoin a lineup featuring 6-foot-11 forward-center Anthony Davis, who has been averaging 31 points, 11 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game.

New Orleans also has been playing without guard Tyreke Evans and small forward Quincy Pondexter, who both are rehabilitating from knee surgeries. Evans has said he hopes to play by December and the club is expecting an update on his readiness to begin basketball activities soon. Team officials have projected a longer rehabilitation for Pondexter.

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