The Minnesota Timberwolves may have their star Jimmy Butler back in the lineup soon, according to recent NBA rumors. USA Today‘s Sam Amick recently commented on the potential for Butler to make his return before the Timberwolves’ final game of the season, which is good news for a team that is still trying to clinch a spot in the postseason. Here’s the latest on the potential game that Butler could be back on the court for by next week as well as how the Minnesota Timberwolves’ chances of grabbing a playoff spot look right now.
On Monday, NBA Insider and USA Today Sports journalist Sam Amick tweeted about Jimmy Butler’s health status. Amick noted that the NBA All-Star was part of a “five-on-five” drill with his team for the first time since his torn meniscus injury back in late February. Amick indicated that Butler “remains on track for a return before the playoffs.”
However, it was also mentioned that the exact date of his return is still unknown. Butler has been out of the lineup since February 23, but luckily his injury wasn’t more severe to the point it required season-ending surgery. While the team has improved with the trade they made to acquire him during the offseason, him being out of the lineup for this stretch has impacted their spot in the NBA playoff standings. Minnesota was once among the top four or five teams but has fallen a bit in the competitive West.
— Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) February 25, 2018
As of this report, the Minnesota Timberwolves (44-34) are clinging to one of the final two spots in the Western Conference NBA standings, but it’s a fight. Only three teams in the West have clinched playoff spots, while there are still five spots to be determined and seven teams battling for them. The Denver Nuggets and L.A. Clippers are just below New Orleans for the eighth and final spot, but a few losses for Minnesota could put them on the outside looking in.
Next up on the Timberwolves’ schedule will be an away game on Thursday against the Denver Nuggets. They’ll play again the next night, also on the road against the Los Angeles Lakers. Next Monday sees Minnesota take on Memphis, while they finish up their season with a home game against Denver with possible playoff implications.
At this point, it seems Jimmy Butler could be in the lineup for any one of those games, but the team will certainly be weighing having him healthy versus making sure they actually qualify for the playoffs.