Zion Williamson will be on a minutes restriction on his return from injury as New Orleans Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry said the forward's NBA debut was close.
Williamson, the top pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, has resumed full practice after undergoing knee surgery in October.
While no date has been set for the 19-year-old's debut Gentry expects it to be "soon", but the coach said there would be restrictions on his game time initially.
"I don't know for how long, but there will definitely be a minutes restriction," he told reporters on Tuesday.
Gentry believes Williamson may need time to settle with the Pelicans, who were 12-25 and second-bottom in the Western Conference.
"That's always a possibility, but who he is and the way he plays, it's not gonna be like starting completely new again," he said.
"It's gonna take a while for everything to come together, it doesn't matter who it is.
"I think because of his basketball knowledge and the IQ he has we can skip some of the steps and he'll be okay."
Gentry accepted the Pelicans were being careful with Williamson, who was initially expected to miss no more than eight weeks after his surgery.
"We will be overly cautious. It's not worth the gamble of just trying to make this thing something that it's not right now," he said.
"We want to make sure everything is in place and we'll take our time.
"He's not going to come out and be a 30-minute-a-game guy, it's gonna be a slow process to get him to the minutes that everybody wants to see him at."