Injury Notes: Butler, Kawhi, Hayward, Evans

Jimmy Butler‘s return date remains unclear, but it looks like the Timberwolves forward is getting closer and closer to getting back into the lineup. According to Sam Amick of USA Today (Twitter link), Butler took part in five-on-five action during practice today for the first time since injuring his knee in February.

The Timberwolves only have four games left in the regular season, but Butler is still expected to return before the playoffs. Minnesota’s next game is on Thursday in Denver, and the Wolves would certainly like to have their veteran star back for that contest, which will be big for playoff purposes.

If Butler can’t suit up for the Timberwolves on Thursday, he could aim to return Friday against the Lakers, next Monday against the Grizzlies, or for next Wednesday’s finale against the Nuggets once again.

Let’s round up a few more injury updates from across the NBA…

  • Asked on Sunday for the latest on Kawhi Leonard‘s status, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said there has been no word on the star forward since he headed to New York last week for rehab purposes. “I don’t know when he and his group are going to feel like they are ready to go,” Popovich said, according to Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. “If I knew, he’d be here. When he and his group feel he’s ready, then he’ll be ready.” Leonard has already been ruled out of San Antonio’s Tuesday game against the Clippers (Twitter link via Jeff McDonald of The Express-News).
  • Gordon Hayward took another key step forward in his rehab from ankle surgery today, jogging up and down the Celtics‘ practice court. Although head coach Brad Stevens has said Hayward won’t return this season, the forward himself hasn’t ruled out the possibility. “I think every day where he can accomplish something new is a big deal,” Stevens acknowledged today, per Marc D’Amico of Still, the Celtics’ coach cautioned that Hayward remains “a long, long way away.”
  • Jawun Evans‘ rookie year with the Clippers has come to an early end, according to head coach Doc Rivers, who said today that Evans will undergo sports hernia surgery and won’t play again this season (Twitter link via Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times). Evans averaged 4.8 PPG and 2.1 APG in 48 games for L.A. this season.
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