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Karl-Anthony Towns has been cleared for full contact drills and 5-on-5 basketball activities as he is progressing toward a return to the Timberwolves following surgery on a torn left knee meniscus.

The update on Towns, which comes four weeks after he had surgery, is positive for him and the Wolves and indicates they can expect Towns back in the near future, even if the team stopped short of offering a definite return date.

Towns has been at the team's shootarounds recently and has been putting up shots and working out during the portions open to the media. He hasn't played since a victory over Portland on March 4 and had surgery March 12. He is averaging 22.1 points per game this season while shooting 51% from the field and 43% from three-point range.

When asked before Tuesday night's game against the visiting Washington Wizards about Towns returning sometime in the four remaining regular-season games, Wolves coach Chris Finch said: "That's what we're hoping. We're hoping it's sooner rather than later, but there's not much time left, so we'll take whatever we can do."

Finch said Towns would be on the bench for Tuesday's game.

"We'll see how he feels day by day," Finch said. "We're excited. We're excited about having him back, whenever that is exactly. He's done a good job in his rehab up to this point in time. He looks incredible. I know he's excited to go, but he's not quite there yet. But certainly, it's going to be a big shot in the arm."

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NBA standings

The Wolves have gone 11-5 since his injury and were tied with Denver for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference entering Tuesday's slate of games. The Wolves had the 18th-most efficient offense of the season when Towns was playing, and they have had the 14th-most efficient offense over the last 15 games. Finch said it should not be too difficult to incorporate Towns back into the flow of the Wolves offense, which has thrived on ball movement the last few weeks. He anticipated Towns would shoot a high volume of threes upon his return. Towns is averaging 5.3 three-point attempts per game.

The Wolves end their regular season at home against Phoenix on Sunday. They are likely to have five or six days off before their first playoff game, as they have clinched a top-three seed in the Western Conference.

Star Tribune staff writer Jerry Zgoda contributed to this report.