Going into last season, Tarik Black was one of the more intriguing young players on the Los Angeles Lakers’ roster. After a solid rookie season, many hoped to see Black build on that and carve out regular minutes for himself.
That did not turn out to be the case as Black appeared in only 39 games and his failure to garner consistent minutes was not only questioned by fans but also seemed to be a concern within the organization a well.
Black re-signed with the Lakers on a two-year contract this season, but before he did so he had a conversation with new head coach Luke Walton in which he asked for one thing, according to Mark Medina of the LA Daily News:
“‘I don’t ask to be given anything. I just ask for a fair shot,’” Black recalled of the conversation. “‘If I earn something, give it to me.’”
Black and Walton have a previous relationship as Black played for the University of Memphis when Walton served as an assistant during the 2011 NBA Lockout. Black said that Walton told him that he would honor his request:
So when he brought up his concerns, Black said that Walton told him: “‘I respect that, appreciate that and will honor that.’”
Despite his down season last year, Black still holds potential as a defensive-minded big man off the bench. He is extremely athletic and relentless on the boards, though his offensive game does lack some polish.
Walton giving Black a ‘fair shot’ to earn minutes is the way it should be, but the Lakers’ front court being pretty crowded could make for a tough road for Black. Timofey Mozgov, Julius Randle, and Larry Nance Jr. are all likely to play big roles this year. Likewise, rookie center Ivica Zubac has looked solid in Summer League and may be more ready to contribute than initially believed.
Nonetheless, Black is undoubtedly working hard this off-season to be ready once training camp rolls around and there is no doubt that he will put everything towards earning his spot in the rotation this coming season.