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Wolves' Butler (knee) cleared for contact

Minnesota Timberwolves star forward Jimmy Butler took the next step in his return from left knee surgery Friday.

Butler, who underwent left meniscus surgery, was cleared on Friday for contact drills.

The All-Star swingman was seen wearing a brace on his knee. There is still not a set date for Butler's return.

"It's the first time for him,'' Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said. "He will take some contact today and then we'll see how he feels tomorrow."

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The Wolves desperately need Butler back. The team has gone just 7-7 in his absence and enter Friday sitting in the seventh spot in the Western Conference playoff standings.

On the season, Butler is averaging 22.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.0 assists while shooting 47.3 percent from the field and 36.5 percent from three.