Tarik Black fitting in with Lakers
Boy, are the Los Angeles Lakers glad Houston picked up Josh Smith.
This, of course, has nothing to do with the Western Conference standings — the Lakers are 12-30 and basically irrelevant in terms of the eventual postseason. But the Rockets had to waive Tarik Black in order to add Smith to their roster.
That move allowed L.A. to pick up the undrafted rookie out of Kansas, without making a trade. Grantland.com is calling the under-the-radar transaction the waiver wire pickup of the year in a feature introducing fans to the Lakers’ unlikely productive backup.
The energetic and powerful 23-year-old made his Lakers debut Jan. 7 and has now played in seven games for L.A., averaging 7.7 points and 5.3 rebounds on 66.7% shooting in 18.3 minutes.
Black’s best game in purple and gold came in a Lakers win — the team’s only victory in its last eight games — against Orlando. He came one rebound shy of a double-double, with 14 point and nine boards.
The Lakers are glad to have the young guy around, and he couldn’t be a better teammate. The Los Angeles Times’ Mike Bresnahan recently wrote about the way Black carries himself. The rookie constantly thanks people with whom he interacts — a trait that showed up when he was in Lawrence for a season, as well.
Black looks at his young NBA career as an “opportunity,” and he told the L.A. Times why he is so grateful.
"As soon as I walked through the door, coach shook my hand and told me that as long as I work hard, I'll be all right out here. Usually coaches don't even really talk to us like that unless you're their franchise player or their top draft pick," Black said. "Undrafted guys? They don't give you the time of day. Coaches here have shown me love from day one."
Black suffered the first setback of his first year in The Association on Monday night, in Phoenix. He sprained his right ankle after scoring 6 points and grabbing 3 rebounds in 21 minutes.
He appeared to be suffering badly when it happened, but Black told Time Warner Cable Sportsnet afterward it wasn’t as bad as it looked.
“I’ve sprained my ankle a couple of times, so I wasn’t really worried, because I didn’t hear anything pop, didn’t come out of place or anything like that.”
Asked after the game if he would miss any games because of the ankle, he remained optimistic.
“We’ll see. We’ll see what happens.”
Reports Tuesday afternoon indicated Black didn’t practice Tuesday and will miss L.A.’s next game, against New Orleans.
Knowing Black’s attitude and approach, this minor setback doesn’t figure to deter his path toward a successful rookie campaign.
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