Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Timberwolves star big man Karl-Anthony Towns returned to action on Friday, according to Minnesota's PR department (Twitter link), a development which could impact the trade market.

Towns hadn’t played since Dec. 13th, mainly due to a knee injury. He was cleared to play earlier in the week but then contracted an illness that delayed his return.

The Timberwolves have reportedly been seeking another impact player to pair up with Towns, particularly Warriors guard D’Angelo Russell. Minnesota made a hard push for Russell during free agency, but the Wolves’ recruiting efforts fell short when the Warriors offered him a four-year, maximum-salary contract after losing Kevin Durant.

The Minnesota front office created more roster flexibility by making a 2-for-1 swap with the Hawks earlier this week, dealing point guard Jeff Teague and swingman Treveon Graham in exchange for wing Allen Crabbe.

The Timberwolves entered Friday’s action in the 13th spot in the West but aren’t completely out of the playoff hunt. They’re 3 1/2 games behind the Grizzlies, who currently hold the final playoff berth.

A healthy Towns certainly improves their prospects, as would a blockbuster deal. There was speculation when Towns was sitting out that Minnesota might entertain trade offers for him, and the Knicks and Warriors were reportedly monitoring his situation. However, a subsequent report insisted that the Timberwolves have no interest in dealing their franchise player.

This article first appeared on Hoops Rumors and was syndicated with permission.


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Can you name the highest-paid players in the NBA?

Figures via Spotrac. 

$42.7M / HOU
James Harden
$42.7M / WAS
John Wall
$41.4M / HOU
Russell Westbrook
$41.1M / BRK
Kevin Durant
$40.2M / GSW
Stephen Curry
$39.9M / OKC
Chris Paul
$38.3M / LAL
LeBron James
$37.9M / GSW
Klay Thompson
$36.0M / PHI
Tobias Harris
$35.5M / MIL
Khris Middleton
$35.1M / BOS
Kemba Walker
$35.1M / MIA
Jimmy Butler
$34.9M / LAC
Kawhi Leonard
$34.2M / DET
Blake Griffin
$34.2M / LAC
Paul George
$34.1M / BRK
Kyrie Irving
$33.3M / TOR
Kyle Lowry
$31.9M / BOS
Gordon Hayward
$31.6M / DAL
Kristaps Porzingis
$31.6M / MIN
Karl-Anthony Towns
$31.6M / PHX
Devin Booker
$30.5M / UTA
Mike Conley
$30.1M / CLE
Kevin Love
$30.0M / DEN
Paul Millsap
$29.5M / DEN
Nikola Jokic
$29.5M / MIN
Andrew Wiggins
$29.5M / PHI
Joel Embiid
$29.3M / GSW
D'Angelo Russell
$27.9M / POR
Damian Lillard
$27.8M / SA
DeMar DeRozan

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