Wojnarowski: Travis Diener is the 15th Man

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports tweets...

After clearing waivers, Travis Diener will sign with the Portland Trail Blazers, league sources tell Y! Sports.

Jason Quick of The Oregonian writes...

Travis Diener's 28th birthday is Monday and his present is a contract with the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Oregonian has learned the Blazers will sign the former Indiana Pacers guard today to occupy their 15th roster spot once he clears waivers.    

(Update: 10:40AM)...

Marc Stein first tweeted news of Diener's release earlier this morning.

The Pacers just announced the release of G Travis Diener

Diener has played in just four games this season, averaging a sparkling .8 points, 1 assist, and 0 turnovers in 6.3 minutes per game.  He last saw game action on February 6th against the Detroit Pistons. Diener has battled a toe injury that required surgery in November. 

Diener is 6'1" and 175 pounds.  He's 28 years old and attended Marquette. His career averages: 4.9 points, 2.5 assists, .6 turnovers per game.  According to Synergy, Diener rated "Excellent" in offensive efficiency last year as a pick and roll ball handler.  Otherwise, his production is pedestrian as you might expect.  The Invisible Ninja notes that he is limited defensively.

Indy Cornrows.com has the waiver statement from the Pacers...

"We want to thank Travis for his time with us," said Pacers President of Basketball Larry Bird. "Unfortunately, he struggled with injuries while with us and that held him back. He's a tough player who I'm sure will contribute somewhere in the NBA. We wish him the best."

Tom Lewis of Indy Cornrows writes...

There's no doubt Diener wasn't happy with his situation on the roster, simply because he didn't have a chance to play. Rookie A.J. Price pushed Diener out of the picture for playing time this season and any available second of time Price doesn't play at this point is a crime against humanity.

Diener was set to be a free agent at the end of this season.

The Blazers faced the most exposure to injury at two positions: center and point guard.  With a lack of quality 5s on the market, the question became: do you compromise for another swing 4/5 like Kenny Thomas or do you add depth to the point guard position?

In the final analysis, management likely felt that an injury to Andre Miller or Jerryd Bayless would cause more rotation issues than an injury to one of their 5s.  LaMarcus Aldridge has swung up to 5 for stretches this season and Dante Cunningham has proven capable of handling minutes at the 4 spot in his absence.  Jeff Pendergraph has also shown the ability to play spot minutes with some degree of effectiveness.

If Miller or Bayless were to go down, McMillan would be left to decide between playing Patty Mills, a rookie he doesn't seem to particularly trust and has only played in the most garbage of garbage time, and sliding either Rudy Fernandez or Brandon Roy down from the 2 spot.  Playing an untested, high-tempo rookie heavy minutes in pressure situations would be anathema for McMillan.  Rudy hasn't shown sufficient ball-handling ability or lateral quickness defensively to handle the point guard position. Roy remains hampered by his hamstring and is struggling to keep up with the opposing team's 3rd perimeter option, let alone their point guards. 

Thus, Diener. That Diener doesn't turn the ball over very often and can stick a jump shot are positives (particularly in Nate McMillan's eyes). That he has never played in a playoff game in his career and that he has been sitting behind A.J. Price would be, uh, the negatives.

(Update:10:56AM)

Here's Bradford Doolittle's analysis of Travis Diener in this year's Pro Basketball Prospectus

His primary value is as a spot-up shooter, as he takes over half of his shots from behind the arc. If he's hitting 39 percent, like he did last year, he's a valuable role player. If he's hitting 32 percent, like he did in 2007-2008, that's a problem. Diener is a good ballhandler who keeps mistakes to a minimum and does a good job of running an offense. Defensively, he will compete but he's limited athletically and has trouble staying with quicker point guards. He's too small to guard twos, so the option of playing him alongside one of the other point guards is really only viable in snippets.

Kevin Pelton would like to add to that analysis (via text):

He's a thousand times better than Kenny Thomas.

Update (12:02PM)

Portland Roundball Society interviews Tim Donahue of 8 Points 9 Seconds here. Donahue writes...

He is very reluctant to try to finish at the rim, often getting into the teeth of the defense, even to the rim, then either dribbling back out or dumping it out to a perimeter player. This is demonstrate by the fact that he only took 52 shots at the rim, and he only had 7 shots blocked in his almost three years in Indy.

Further evidence of his tendency to be over-conservative is his 5-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Outside of the occasional quick three, he almost never does anything other than the safe play. 

You can almost hear Nate McMillan nodding his head vigorously while reading that.

-- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter

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