– They possess disparate personalities and come from different places, backgrounds and maybe even times, but Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns play as teammates in Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game together for the first time.

As different as they might be, they are Timberwolves one and the same who have found common ground.

“You just have to allow him to be who he is and allow me to be who I am,” Butler said Saturday after a Team Stephen practice. “Know at times that we’ll clash, but it’s only because we want to win.

‘‘We’re not going to see eye to eye on everything, but he’ll help me grow and I’ll help him grow in the same way. I love to see the growth he has made as a player, but more importantly as a person.

“To be here lets him know he’s at the top of this league. He’s around the best. It’s big growth and a step to greatness and he’s right there.”


When asked to predict Sunday’s MVP, Butler picked his own.

“KAT is going to win MVP,” Butler said. “Hey, why not? He has been playing incredibly well. I’m happy he gets to be here, well-deserved on his behalf. So when I get out there, KAT, I’m going to throw you the ball and you shoot it. If you throw it back to me, I’m going to throw it right back to you.”


• Utah’s Donovan Mitchell won Saturday’s dunk contest, but Towns won’t forget when teammate Zach LaVine beat Aaron Gordon in 2016. “I was at the best dunk contest that ever happened,” Towns said.

• Phoenix’s Devin Booker won the three-point contest and Brooklyn’s Spencer Dinwiddie won the skills challenge.

• Butler on former teammate/free agent Derrick Rose: “He’s going to help whatever organization he’s playing for. I’m not a GM, obviously I can’t sign him, but I’ve played with him and he’s a hell of a talent. Nobody will say Derrick Rose doesn’t belong in this league.”

• A group of NBA players and referees met privately Saturday to discuss strained relations. Each union called it “incredibly productive.”

• Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, Ray Allen, Chris Webber, Maurice Cheeks and Grant Hill were among 13 finalists for election in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The Class of 2018 will be announced at the Final Four.

•Toronto’s Dwane Casey will coach Team Le- Bron 11 years after the Wolves fired him. “I want to win,” he said. “I think we owe it to the fans to let them know that the NBA is not just about rolling the ball out there.”