Butler does 5-on-5 for first time since surgery

Timberwolves star Jimmy Butler requested a trade more than a month ago but the team has been unable to work out a deal.

Minnesota Timberwolves small forward Jimmy Butler was cleared for contact last week and took part in contact drills this past Friday for the first time since undergoing left knee surgery.

Butler, who has told people privately he expects to be back before the season ends, participated in five-on-five action Monday and it went well — according to a report from USA TODAY Sports.

The Wolves entered Monday as the seventh seed in the Western Conference playoff standings and hold just a half game lead over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Minnesota desperately needs Butler back, as the team has gone just 8-8 in his absence and have struggled on defense, giving up an average of 110.4 points per game.

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.