Dan Feldman

New York Knicks president Phil Jackson speaks to reporters during a news conference in Greenburgh, N.Y., Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. Derek Fisher was fired as New York Knicks coach Monday, with his team having lost five straight and nine of 10 to fall well back in the Eastern Conference playoff race. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Can Knicks make playoffs? Phil Jackson: ‘Why not? I don’t know what’s so great about what’s out here in the East’

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Before the 2014-15 season, Phil Jackson said he believed the Knicks would make the playoffs.

They fell just 21 games short.

The Knicks president isn’t going quite as bold this year, but he’s still expressing plenty of postseason optimism:

  • Bruce Beck of NBC 4 New York: “Do you believe that this franchise can rally and make the playoffs and maybe go even further?”
  • Jackson: “Why not? I don’t know what’s so great about what’s out here in the East. We can fill that role.”

The Western Conference is better than the Eastern Conference, but the West’s advantages are at the top and bottom. In the middle – where the playoff cutoff is set – the East might be better.

The Pistons (44-38) were the East’s No. 8 seed, and the Bulls (42-40) and Wizards (41-41) got stuck in the lottery. In the West, the Rockets (41-41) made the postseason and the Trail Blazers (44-38) got the No. 5 seed.

So, the East’s overall weakness probably doesn’t do the Knicks much good. If the goal is just cracking the playoffs – something New York has yet to do in Jackson’s three seasons, including the one he took over during – the Knicks might have an easier time in the West.

Kristaps Porzingis, Carmelo Anthony and Robin Lopez give New York – which went 32-50 this season – a fighting chance. That’s a solid front line, though Melo is better at power forward, and Porzingis – like Lopez is – will soon be better at center (if he isn’t already). The Knicks need guard help, but they have cap space and the New York market can be appealing.

Can the Knicks make the playoffs? Sure. But it’s an uphill climb.

Jimmy Butler affirms desire to play for Team USA in Olympics

LAS VEGAS, NV - AUGUST 11:  Jimmy Butler #50 of the 2015 USA Basketball Men's National Team attends a practice session at the Mendenhall Center on August 11, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
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Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes and DeMarcus Cousins still want to play in the Olympics.

Another player eager to join Team USA? Jimmy Butler.

Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago:

Butler would be a good fit.

From his perspective, he’s just 26, has four years remaining on his contract and would be relatively fresh after missing the playoffs.

From USA Basketball’s perspective, he’s a star two-way wing when there are precious few of those. If the Americans want to play small and slide a traditional small forward to power forward – a seemingly smart strategy in international play – they need to stack the roster with wings. There’d be plenty of opportunities for someone like Butler, who can play shooting guard and small forward.

Watch Draymond Green name all 34 players drafted before him in 2012 (video)

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Draymond Green – the No. 35 pick in the 2012 NBA draft – can name every player drafted before him.

Before, you had to take a reporter’s word on it.

Now, you can see the Warriors forward in action.

Report: LaMarcus Aldridge withdraws from Olympic consideration due to hand injury

LAS VEGAS, NV - AUGUST 11:  LaMarcus Aldridge #54 of the 2015 USA Basketball Men's National Team shoots during a practice session at the Mendenhall Center on August 11, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
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LaMarcus Aldridge once delayed hand surgery to keep playing.

He’s not playing through that pain again this summer.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

I never considered Aldridge more than a fringe Team USA hopeful, anyway. He’s on the wrong side of 30 and plays for the Spurs, who’ve led the push for valuing rest. He has also had a rocky history with USA Basketball.

The Americans’ player pool is narrowing but not near the point they’d be considered anything less than huge favorites to win gold in Rio.

Kevin Love travels with Cavaliers following potential concussion

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 05:  Kevin Love #0 of the Cleveland Cavaliers backs up Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors in Game 2 of the 2016 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 5, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
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CLEVELAND (AP) — Cavaliers forward Kevin Love has been cleared to travel after suffering a potential concussion in Game 2 of the NBA Finals.

A team spokesman says in an email that Love, who was injured in the first half of Sunday’s game, was with his teammates Monday on the flight from San Francisco to Cleveland.

Love was struck in the back of his head by Golden State forward Harrison Barnes while fighting for a rebound. Love crumpled to the floor in pain but returned to the game.

However, he removed himself in the third quarter after feeling dizzy and was taken to the locker room for tests and observation.

The Cavs said he was placed in the NBA’s concussion protocol. His status for Wednesday’s Game 3 isn’t known.

The defending champion Warriors lead the series 2-0.