Notebook: Blazers are still adapting, McMillan says
PORTLAND — Travis Diener is officially a Trail Blazer.
Portland signed the free agent veteran guard to a contract Wednesday morning.
The 6-foot-1, 175-pound Diener has averaged 4.9 points, 2.5 assists and 1.4 rebounds during his five-year NBA career.
Diener, 28, played in four games for Indiana this season before being released Monday. He averaged 0.8 points, 0.5 rebounds and 1.0 assists, and saw his time limited due to a left-toe injury and a roster overload at the point guard position.
Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard hinted Monday that Portland planned to sign Diener, but the former Marquette standout first had to clear waivers.
Diener said his health is no longer an issue, adding that he is ready to do whatever the Blazers ask of him as Portland makes a late-season push for a Western Conference playoff spot.
“I’m good to go,” said Diener, following a Wednesday morning shootaround prior to the Blazers’ night game against Indiana at the Rose Garden.
The ex-Pacer stated that he already had a good impression about his new team based off conversations with Indiana forward Josh McRoberts, who formerly played for the Blazers. Thus, once Diener learned from his agent that a roster spot with Portland was a legitimate possibility, the decision to become a Blazer was an easy one.
“This place is top notch,” Diener said. “The team is great and the fans are great. I feel fortunate to be able to play for them.”
Portland coach Nate McMillan acknowledged that his team needs to play better on its home court and take advantage of its loud, passionate fans.
The Blazers held a 19-13 home record heading into Wednesday’s game against the Pacers. The record is not bad. But it is nowhere near the 34-7 home mark Portland built up last season.
“We’re not finishing and making plays and getting breaks like we were at home last year,” McMillan said. “Our starts have been slow at times. And we haven’t made this building that building it was last year, where teams had a fear of coming here and we played off
of the crowd.”
Work in progress
McMillan said his team’s impressive 4-1 record on its recent five-game road trip should not disguise the fact that the Blazers are still trying to figure out who they are with 18 games left in the season.
To McMillan, the return of guard Brandon Roy, the promotion of forward Nicolas Batum and the addition of center Marcus Camby make Portland a much different team than it was just a month ago. And even though the Blazers have been forced to adapt to change all season, that does not mean the team was any better prepared for its new situation.
“It hasn’t stopped this season, because of injuries, trades and the time frame of (them),” McMillan said.
Despite the changes, Portland’s goal still remains the same. The Blazers are striving to make the playoffs, McMillan said, and any improvements that arrive during the meantime will be taken as they come.
“Establishing ourselves as a team that’s going to be strong defensively; a team that’s going to be good executing offensively — I think that’s something we’re still working on,” McMillan said.