Timberwolves forward Jimmy Butler intends to return to action on Friday night against the Lakers, two people familiar with Butler’s decision tell Marc Stein of The New York Times. Butler, who has been sidelined since February 23 due to a torn meniscus, will undergo one final test during pregame warmups tonight, but plans on playing.
Butler was active for Thursday night’s game against Denver and was listed as available to play, but ultimately never saw any action. With that loss, the Timberwolves fell into a tie for eighth place in the West with Denver — both teams are 44-35. While Minnesota still holds the tiebreaker and the final playoff spot for now, the club has little room for error during the season’s final week.
After facing the Lakers in Los Angeles on Friday night, the Wolves will host the Grizzlies on Monday night, then host the Nuggets for Wednesday’s regular season finale, which could determine the No. 8 seed in the West. Minnesota has played sub-.500 ball since Butler went down, so getting him back would be huge for the club, assuming he’s healthy.
In 56 games for the Wolves this season, Butler has averaged 22.2 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 5.0 APG, and 1.9 SPG.