Lakers waive Tarik Black before contract becomes guaranteed

Los Angeles Lakers center Tarik Black #28 celebrates in the second half. The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 108-96 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. 4/11/2017 Photo by John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News (SCNG)

The Lakers waived reserve forward Tarik Black before his $6.6 million contract would have become guaranteed for the 2017-18 season. The Lakers had until July 4 to decide to retain Black or part ways with the fourth-year forward before his contract became guaranteed.

The Lakers have liked Black’s offensive and defensive hustle as well as leadership qualities. The 25-year-old Black also averaged 5.7 points and 5.1 rebounds while shooting 51.2 percent in 16.3 minutes through 67 games in the 2016-17 seasons. But it appeared unclear how the Black would fit in a loaded frontcourt that also features Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr., Luol Deng and Kyle Kuzma. The Lakers also have to evaluate reserve forward Thomas Robinson, who became an unrestricted free agent and could be a less expensive option than Black.

The Lakers originally signed Black in the 2014-15 season shortly after Houston waived him to make room for free-agent Josh Smith. Black immediately impressed the Lakers with his hustle, averaging 7.2 points on 58.9 percent shooting, 6.3 rebounds in 38 games. Black’s numbers dipped to 3.4 points and 4.0 rebounds in 2015-16, but plenty within the Lakers attributed that to former coach Byron Scott playing him only 12.7 minutes per game through 39 appearances.

Black resigned with the Lakers to a two-year, $13 million deal partly because Lakers coach Luke Walton promised he would treat him fairly. Black, who was with the University of Memphis when Walton was an assistant during the 2011 NBA lockout, represented one of many players that enjoyed playing for Walton.

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