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Minnesota Timberwolves' Jimmy Butler says he is closing in on return

The Minnesota Timberwolves aren’t what they once were when they lost All-Star guard Jimmy Butler to a meniscus injury in late February. When Butler went down — Feb. 24 — the Wolves were 36-26, No. 4 in the Western Conference and the leaders of the Northwest Division. They have gone 8-8, have lost control of the division lead and are the No. 7 seed in the West.

However, the Wolves got a measure of good news at yesterday’s practice regarding Butler’s status. He took part in a full practice for the first time since that February injury and should be back sometime in the Wolves’ last four games. Jerry Zgoda of The Star-Tribune has more on Butler, who made a point to speak out on what has been ailing Minnesota during his absence:

“We just gotta get tougher,” Butler said. “We gotta play like some dogs with a sense of urgency. Teams just do whatever they want against us. I don’t like it.

“Ain’t no coach in the world that can make somebody play hard. Ain’t no coach in the world that can make anybody want it. Right now, in the position we are … we gotta realize that as a whole, we got to go out there and be the tougher team every single night, every single possession.”

Butler was cleared for contact Friday, and took part in the team’s shootaround in Dallas that day. Since then he has slowly ramped up the workload until, Tuesday, he was cleared for a full practice.

That said, neither Butler nor Thibodeau said when exactly Butler would return.

“I’m this close to returning to the floor and playing the game I love, being out there with the soldiers that go through it every day in practice,” Butler said. “That’s what I miss, more than anything, just being out there competing with those guys.”

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