The Lakers made Tarik Black a restricted free agent by tendering him a qualifying offer earlier this week. With the market moving quickly, however, and big men signing for some big dollars through the first 3 days of free agency, the Lakers did not wait for Black to sign an offer sheet and instead have signed him outright:
Vertical Sources: Free agent Tarik Black has agreed to a two-year, $12.85 million deal to re-sign with the Los Angeles Lakers.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 4, 2016
I really like this signing. With the type of money being thrown around in free agency so far, inking him to a deal that averages slightly over $6 million a season is a nice value. Who knows if the Black could have gotten more on the market, but if he was about to be offered a larger deal or the Lakers had a sense they wouldn’t want to match a figure higher than that, getting him on board without having to go through those issues is a smart, proactive move.
(Update: Shams Charania is also reporting that Black’s contract can be issued using his “Early Bird” rights, meaning the Lakers can keep his cap hold on the books and, if needed, go above the cap to sign him to this deal. Further, Charania is also reporting Black’s contract has a trade kicker and a “guarantee date” for the 2nd season, implying that year 2 is either partially or non-guaranteed. Assuming all this is true, this is even a more team-friendly deal and shows a bit of creativity on the Lakers’ part. While I do not expect the Lakers will need to use his Early Bird rights to execute this deal, they do maintain some flexibility to pursue other free agents who can take up their remaining cap space before inking Black.)
Black, though buried and out of the lineup for much of the season for Byron Scott reasons, has shown he is a viable back up big man in the league. With his signing, the Lakers’ are now starting to have their rotation take place. Black can instantly be slotted behind Mozgov as the team’s primary back up big man and can continue to grow with the rest of the young core.
Lakers’ fans should be familiar enough with Black’s skill set, but if there are any questions as to why he’s such a good fit with this group, one only need to see how he attacks the rim as a roll man in the P&R and how hard he works defensively to protect the paint and to get after rebounds on both backboards. Black still has a ways to go in terms of developing the type of craftiness undersized big men like him need to be full time rotation players, but what he lacks in savvy he makes up for with a high motor and by always playing hard.
One last note worth mentioning is that Tarik Black also has a history with Luke Walton. During the 2011 lockout season, when the owners and union were negotiating a new deal, Luke Walton moonlighted as a college assistant coach on Josh Pastner’s Memphis Tigers team.
Tarik Black was key player on that Tigers’ team, averaging nearly 11 points and 5 rebounds a game. Black has mentioned Walton as one the people who told him he had a chance to make it in the NBA and how that always stuck with him. Now, they are reunited on the Lakers.