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Posts tagged with Tarik Black

‘Hawks in the NBA Media Days highlights

Los Angeles Clippers' Paul Pierce speaks during the team's NBA basketball media day, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Los Angeles Clippers' Paul Pierce speaks during the team's NBA basketball media day, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

During the past few days, players for the NBA’s 30 franchises posed for photos, answered questions and took in media day festivities with varying degrees of seriousness.

That means it’s time to get the old ’Hawks in the NBA blog up and firing again. At this moment 19 former Kansas players draw paychecks in The Association, and they all — well, almost all of them — had their moments in the spotlight at media days.

From rookies just getting started, to veterans joining new teams to role players fitting in, here are some of the KU-related social media highlights from around the league.

COLE ALDRICH, L.A. CLIPPERS

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CLIFF ALEXANDER, PORTLAND

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DARRELL ARTHUR, DENVER

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TARIK BLACK, L.A. LAKERS

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MARIO CHALMERS, MIAMI

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In case you were wondering, “Spo” is Miami coach Erik Spoelstra, and Chalmers’ “new role” will be him coming off the bench.

NICK COLLISON, OKLAHOMA CITY

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JOEL EMBIID, PHILADELPHIA

If you were curious about how Joel Embiid is handling his ongoing injury and rehab process, you’re not alone.

Appropriately enough, the injured-for-another-entire-season Embiid wasn’t a part of the 76ers’ media day, according to The Inquirer’s Keith Pompey.

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Presumably, he’ll attend a media day and play in the NBA one of these years.

Embiid’s last known whereabouts? Going to see the Pope.

https://instagram.com/p/8HZLzslrlg/

DREW GOODEN, WASHINGTON

Before looking for Drew Gooden content, I thought, What’s that maniac up to?

Well, he’s up to this:

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That dude has to be a blast to cover. Rarely not entertaining.

KIRK HINRICH, CHICAGO

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BEN MCLEMORE, SACRAMENTO

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MARCUS MORRIS, DETROIT

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The Pistons’ Twitter account did a tweet Q&A with a number of Detroit players Monday, but apparently Marcus bounced before they could get one rolling with him.

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As a side note, ESPN’s NBA folks ranked Marcus Morris as the 191st-best player in the league. So there’s that.

MARKIEFF MORRIS, PHOENIX

By far the biggest ’Hawks in the NBA news to come out of media days was presumably disgruntled forward Markieff Morris putting on a happy face and stating he wants to be in Phoenix.

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That’s not what he was saying back in August, when he told The Inquirer’s Keith Pompey: “One thing for sure, I am not going to be there.

At the time at least, Markieff was hot and bothered about Phoenix shipping his twin brother and roommate Marcus off to the Pistons. He still might be a little sour with Suns general manager Ryan McDonough about that transaction.

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SASHA KAUN, CLEVELAND

Sasha Kaun is Russian. Timofey Mozgov is Russion. Hijinks ensued.

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KELLY OUBRE JR., WASHINGTON

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Looks like Kelly Oubre Jr. loosened up and got comfortable at the Wizards’ media day.

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PAUL PIERCE, L.A. CLIPPERS

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THOMAS ROBINSON, BROOKLYN

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BRANDON RUSH, GOLDEN STATE

Yes, Brandon Rush won an NBA championship with the Warriors. But, no, there isn’t a lot of media interest in him out in Oakland.

Upon posting this blog, Rush hadn't appeared in any Golden State tweets — or, really, anywhere else in the Twitterverse.

ANDREW WIGGINS, MINNESOTA

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Unlike Marcus Morris, the 2014-15 Rookie of the Year was able to answer a few questions on Twitter.

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JEFF WITHEY, UTAH

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Tarik Black enters Summer League prepared to prove himself to Lakers all over again

Los Angeles Lakers forward Tarik Black, right, shoots as Minnesota Timberwolves forward Adreian Payne defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, April 10, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Los Angeles Lakers forward Tarik Black, right, shoots as Minnesota Timberwolves forward Adreian Payne defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, April 10, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

In the NBA, you constantly have to prove yourself, especially if you’re an un-drafted player on a non-guaranteed contract. Such is the life of Tarik Black.

You wouldn’t know it by listening to the former Kansas big man speak, but Black might not have nearly as large a role with the Los Angeles Lakers in his second season as he did as a rookie.

Listed at 6-foot-11 (but actually 6-9 in sneakers), Black started 27 games for the Lakers after being waived by Houston. The undersized center contributed 7.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and made 59.8% of his shot attempts in 21.1 minutes a game for an underwhelming L.A. team that finished the season 21-61.

As one of the NBA’s marquee franchises, the Lakers weren’t about to run it back with the same roster. And although they whiffed on big-name big men free agents such as LaMarcus Aldridge and Greg Monroe, they made less headline-grabbing moves by trading for center Roy Hibbert and signing power forward Brandon Bass. Throw in the return of power forward Julius Randle, who broke a leg in his NBA debut last season, and you’re looking at three guys likely to get minutes ahead of Black.

So why is Black so positive about his role with the franchise entering Summer League play? The gregarious big man said in an interview posted on the Lakers’ website he felt like a part of the team within a couple of weeks of arriving in L.A. — like he was supposed to be there.

The Lakers begin playing in the Las Vegas Summer League on Friday, where Black enters the showcase with a list of personal targets in terms of improvements.

“A lot of things last season with me was moving too fast,” Black said. “I have a lot of tools, a lot of things I can utilize there on the floor, but I was moving so fast and just so anxious that I was maybe throwing the ball away or making a move and I had a shot and I didn’t recognize it, because my head’s down and I’m just moving. So now I’m just trying to slow myself down.”

After having conversations with coach Byron Scott on the matter, Black thinks improving offensively will come by pacing himself, as well as investing some off-the-court time in watching video.

“To see yourself on film, I think it’s an underplayed thing nowadays in the game,” Black said. “We watch film on teams when we travel, but watching yourself is huge.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-AyUBAPZS8

Of course, Black didn’t mean watching his own highlights. Examining areas where he came up short in his first tour through the league will do him far more good. All the while, he plans on expanding his “bread and butter” plays, too, and constantly finding ways to improve his greatest skills.

“That’s gonna keep me at this level: my rebounding, my hustle plays, playing defense, things like that,” Black pointed out.

One facet that needs a lot of improvement, Black admitted, is his jump shot. Primarily an interior force his entire basketball life, he has spent a lot of time since the end of the season taking jumpers.

At the college and high school levels, Black always played center and never had a coach ask him to take jumpers, let alone work on them. Accordingly, he is happy to put in the time to become a more complete NBA player.

An overview of Tarik Black's rookie-year shot chart, via NBA.com/stats.

An overview of Tarik Black's rookie-year shot chart, via NBA.com/stats.

Honest with reporters about not just his development, but also adjusting to all that comes with professional basketball, Black said he had trouble at first determining the ideal approach to his offseason routine. After all, this is his first summer as an NBA player. A little over a year ago, he had pre-draft workouts through June. Before that, as Black put it, college players stayed on campus in the summer months, because coaches didn’t want them to leave and “you don’t have money to leave, so it’s a little bit different routine.”

Black, who has one season left on his contract for $845,059, understands he’ll have to maneuver through this offseason properly to make sure he enters training camp prepared for the 82-game grind. He said he returned to KU “like two days later,” after the Lakers’ season ended and went in the opposite direction of immediate rest.

“I was playing five-on-five as soon as I touched down off the plane,” Black said.

However, he kept hearing the same advice from people who know the league: get some rest. So Black tried to take about a month off to get rejuvenated.

“I want some longevity in my career,” Black explained. “And I know what you do now definitely affects you down the road, even though you might not feel it as much.”

For someone who has played all of 63 games in the NBA, Black sure talks like a veteran. It’s smart of him, too, to neither address the diminished role he may occupy next season, nor waste time worrying about it at this point. As he told reporters, the Lakers have “so much talent” it’s difficult to predict what they’ll ask of him or how much they’ll utilize him, particularly on offense.

“I’m not really tripping about that,” Black said. “Because I know I’m getting better. I’m working on it every day. When you get the chance to show it, that’s when the opportunity opens up.”

Once free agent agreements and trades from the past week become official, the Lakers’ frontcourt will feature Black, Hibbert, Bass, Randle, Ryan Kelly, Robert Sacre and rookie Larry Nance Jr. That’s a lot of big men. But the group could get less crowded, according to the L.A. Times, which reported the Lakers could trade Kelly or Sacre to make sure they have enough room under the salary cap to accommodate their offseason acquisitions.

Given Black’s cheap contract (by NBA standards, of course) and his attitude, it’s hard to imagine the Lakers getting rid of him. But anything could happen in the weeks and months to come.

Beginning this weekend at the Summer League, Black will just keep working, trying to prove that he can be trusted inside, even on offense.

“I’m gonna keep on playing my age and show that I’m getting better,” Black said.

It’s that approach that got him to the NBA, via the 2014 Summer League, to begin with, and it’s that mindset that will keep him around the league.


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.


Follow @BentonASmith on Twitter.

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Undrafted Tarik Black exceeds expectations in rookie campaign

Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, left, and Los Angeles Lakers forward Tarik Black battle for a rebound as Clippers forward Matt Barnes grabs Blacks jersey during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, April 5, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, left, and Los Angeles Lakers forward Tarik Black battle for a rebound as Clippers forward Matt Barnes grabs Blacks jersey during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, April 5, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Given how the 2014 NBA Draft played out for Tarik Black, it’s hard to imagine his rookie season turning out any better than it did.

Sixty players — including two of his Kansas basketball teammates — heard their names called on draft night this past June, while Black went unpicked. The big man with little flash to his game would have to scrap his way into the professional ranks the hard way, by proving himself in the Summer League and earning a roster spot at a fall training camp.

And even though Houston, the organization that gave him a chance, ended up dumping him when veteran forward Josh Smith unexpectedly became available, that turned out just fine for Black.

A happy and productive member of the Los Angeles Lakers the final 38 games of his rookie season, Black said during his exit-interview press conference he went from a pick-setter and offensive rebounder in Houston to a situation that allowed him to flourish in L.A.

The lottery-bound Lakers, of course, needed him a lot more than the Rockets, the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. Wearing the vaunted purple and gold, Black started 27 games and averaged 7.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 0.6 blocks in 21.1 minutes a game, while making 58.9% of his field goals.

“I 100 percent feel like I found a home here,” Black said in an interview posted on the Lakers’ website. “It was a great opportunity and a great blessing.”

http://instagram.com/p/1iHKffm9kR/

In Black’s own words, he was “not even a big name on the team” in his one season at KU, after transferring from Memphis. Once the entire league passed on him at the draft, he didn’t spend any time worrying about the guys who were selected and whether they were better than him. Instead, he successfully kept himself from over-analyzing any perceived misfortune. As it turned out, Black eventually landed in the right situation — and he admitted that doesn’t always happen for rookies.

“I’ve always felt that I had the potential,” the 23-year-old post player said, “and I had the talent that everyone else had.”

The Lakers gave Black a chance to make a name for himself, and upon his exit interview with coach Byron Scott and general manager Mitch Kupchak, he left encouraged by the praise he received.

According to Black, who played center for L.A. even though he says he is only 6-foot-9 while wearing sneakers (don’t trust those roster listings that put him at 6-11), the Lakers’ brass spoke highly of his potential. They said he can become an effective undersized presence in the paint, much like a Charles Barkley, for example. Black isn’t going to become an NBA MVP like Sir Charles, but the confident young man has high expectations for himself.

“I feel like I have the opportunity to be a great basketball player,” Black said. “How that’s been defined? Many greats have done many different things.”

Ideally, he’d like to play power forward in the league, instead of center. Black knows his rebounding is his biggest asset, and he wants to get to a point where he can defend an opposing 3, 4 or 5. He hopes his bulk, athleticism and footwork will allow him to turn this rookie-year success story into a long NBA career.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MbmKtJ0AIg

“I’m undersized as far as height goes,” he admitted, “but I’ve got some tools that I can play five, and that’s gonna make me more valuable at this level.”

Black’s contract with the Lakers isn’t guaranteed for the 2015-16 season, and his success these past few months isn’t going to stop him from continuing his development in the upcoming Summer League. After facing NBA big men for a season, he learned not only do they all have go-to post moves, they also know how to maneuver past screens and work on defense. All the greats, Black said, have perfected aspects of their games, and that’s what makes them unstoppable at times.

His summer plans also include returning to KU. Black said he is one course and a thesis away from completing his master’s degree in African-American studies. Not that he’s sweating the thesis. His mother used to work for the National Civil Rights Museum, in his hometown of Memphis.

“Whatever I decide to write it on,” Black shared, “I’m gonna knock it out. Trust me.”

Confidence carried him far in his first tour of the league. But black said faith proved huge for him, too, because so much of his life as a professional basketball player is out of his hands.

Still, there he sat at the season’s end, having accomplished more than the majority of the 60 players drafted last summer.

“A lot of those guys who were listed above me,” Black said, “I’m amongst them now.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3SN8ydqlwc


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.


Follow @BentonASmith on Twitter.

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Tarik Black auditioning for his NBA future

Los Angeles Lakers' Tarik Black, center, goes up for a basket during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz, Thursday, March 19, 2015, in Los Angeles. The Jazz 80-73. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Los Angeles Lakers' Tarik Black, center, goes up for a basket during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz, Thursday, March 19, 2015, in Los Angeles. The Jazz 80-73. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

In the grand scheme of things, the next couple of weeks are fairly meaningless for the Los Angeles Lakers.

At 20-54 with eight games left, the marquee franchise won’t come close to sniffing the playoffs this season. Really, the Lakers would be better off losing out to give themselves the best chance at retaining their 2015 lottery pick, which is top-five protected.

But you better believe the final games of the season mean the world to rookie big man Tarik Black. Undrafted out of Kansas, and waived by Houston in December, the powerful young big man now starts for one of the most storied franchises in pro sports.

That fact alone, however, guarantees Black nothing. As Mike Bresnahan wrote for the Los Angeles Times, the first-year post player currently finds himself in an ongoing audition for his future NBA livelihood.

Black’s contract for next season isn’t guaranteed, and though the Lakers would only have to pay him $850,000 in 2015-16 — we say only because this is the NBA, and most guys make millions upon millions annually — the wise-beyond-his-years 23-year-old told the L.A. Times he isn’t about to assume anything.

Black learned that the hard way, when Houston released him.

"Every article was the same — 'Tarik Black is a keeper, a surprise because nobody drafted him,'" Black told the L.A. Times. "Then a situation popped up where a star free agent came up (Josh Smith) and I ended up getting waived. It's why I tend not to think about tomorrow."

Since the second week of March, Black’s minutes have gone up, and he has responded with some solid outings, including double-doubles versus New York and Utah, and a career-high 16 points on Wednesday against New Orleans.

Between Houston and L.A., Black has averaged 5.4 points, 5.5 rebounds and 0.4 blocks in his first NBA campaign, while hitting 55.2% of his shots and playing just 18.2 minutes a game.

His numbers look even better in the past 13 games, while playing 24.4 minutes: 8.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 0.8 blocks, 54.8% shooting.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUylEcmhhcs

The more opportunities Black gets to prove himself, the more he looks like a legitimate role player who could contribute on a winning team.

Whether that is the Lakers or some other organization next season, Black told the L.A. Times he can’t let that bother him.

"I'm very happy with the way I've been playing. I love this organization. I want to stay with the Lakers. But if I end up somewhere else, I'll just have to work hard there as well.”

Black’s season has gone so well, he actually is ranked 10th on the Rookie Ladder blog at NBA.com.

If he can do that after all 30 teams passed on him in the draft, you know his effort and attitude will take him far in The Association — in Los Angeles or elsewhere.


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.


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Reply 5 comments from Len Shaffer Adam Gerval Janet Olin Dale Rogers Alex Wishart Perses

Tarik Black fitting in with Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers forward Tarik Black (28) pulls down a rebound from Utah Jazz forward Trevor Booker, right, in the second quarter during an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 16, 2015, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Los Angeles Lakers forward Tarik Black (28) pulls down a rebound from Utah Jazz forward Trevor Booker, right, in the second quarter during an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 16, 2015, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

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.

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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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVpkvGql-54

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.

Los Angeles Lakers forward Tarik Black (28) reacts after getting hurt in the fourth quarter during an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns, Monday, Jan. 19, 2015, in Phoenix. Black left the game and never returned. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Los Angeles Lakers forward Tarik Black (28) reacts after getting hurt in the fourth quarter during an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns, Monday, Jan. 19, 2015, in Phoenix. Black left the game and never returned. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

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.

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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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— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.


Follow @BentonASmith on Twitter.

Reply 7 comments from Armen Kurdian Longhawk1976 David Kelley-Wood Dale Rogers Len Shaffer Clara Westphal Matt Bowers

Lakers claim Tarik Black off waivers, cut Xavier Henry

Houston Rockets forward Tarik Black, right, goes up for a basket against Milwaukee Bucks guard Giannis Antetokounmpo, left, during the first half of an NBA game Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Darren Hauck)

Houston Rockets forward Tarik Black, right, goes up for a basket against Milwaukee Bucks guard Giannis Antetokounmpo, left, during the first half of an NBA game Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Darren Hauck)

So long, Houston. Hello, Los Angeles.

Two days after learning the Rockets had waived him in order to sign Josh Smith, rookie center Tarik Black has a new NBA home. The undrafted big man out of Kansas couldn’t pass through the league’s waiver system without the Lakers scooping him up.

Black, who had averaged 4.2 points and 5.1 rebounds for Houston, didn’t leave his short-term employer without feeling grateful. Sunday afternoon, he tweeted about his gratitude for the franchise that gave him a shot to make it in the league:

“I would like to thank the (Rockets) for blessing me to be (a part) of such an outstanding organization.”

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While the news meant the 6-foot-11 rookie would remain in the league, acquiring Black pushed another former Kansas player out. Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Lakers waived inured small forward Xavier Henry in order to have a roster spot for Black.

Henry, coming off a promising 2013-14 with the Lakers, ruptured his left Achilles in November, ending his fifth season prematurely.

The Lakers only signed Henry to a one-year deal this past offseason, so parting ways with him in order to sign someone who could impact the team now made sense. Appropriately, Henry isn’t taking it personally.

“Nothing has changed,” the 23-year-old tweeted to Lakers fans Sunday afternoon. “I’m working to get healthy everyday. I understand the situation and thank (you) for your wishes (and) good vibes.”

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While going from the playoff-bound Rockets (21-7 before facing San Antonio Sunday evening) to the lottery-bound Lakers (9-21 entering Sunday’s game against Phoenix) might not seem like an ideal situation, the 23-year-old Black wasn’t complaining.

“Well, what basketball player doesn’t grow up wising to play for a historic organization like the (Lakers),” Black posted on Twitter. “Thank you for the opportunity, L.A.!!!”

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Black didn’t stop there, adding in another tweet:

“To the fans of the Lakers, I am honored and can’t wait to get to work. Hopefully I can help this team and you guys will enjoy the process.”

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Black’s signing will give the Lakers another low-post option to go with Jordan Hill, Carlos Boozer and Ed Davis.


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.


Follow @BentonASmith on Twitter.

Reply 8 comments from Len Shaffer Jayhawk86 Stupidmichael Texashawk10_2 Vernon Riggs

Report: Rockets waive Tarik Black

Houston Rockets forward Tarik Black, center, drives to the basket against the defense of Milwaukee Bucks guard Giannis Antetokounmpo, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Darren Hauck)

Houston Rockets forward Tarik Black, center, drives to the basket against the defense of Milwaukee Bucks guard Giannis Antetokounmpo, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Darren Hauck)

Basketball isn’t just a game in the NBA, it’s also a monumental business — even around the holidays.

Rookie Tarik Black learned that the hard way when Houston waived the center from Kansas the day after Christmas.

Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Rockets had to clear a roster spot in order to sign free agent Josh Smith, himself waived days ago by Detroit. Black ended up being the casualty when Houston (20-7) made a title-chasing move.

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Undrafted after one year at KU, Black earned himself a Rockets uniform and playing time through hard work. Coach Kevin McHale, in a story from CBS Houston’s Howard Chen, earlier this month pointed to Black’s core values and attitude when talking about how the (allegedly) 6-foot-11 center got a shot in the NBA after all those teams passed on him in the draft.

“That’s what got my attention right away,” McHale said. “I was just very impressed with the kid as far as his willingness to come to work every day. (He) had just a great can-do attitude. Whatever you asked him to do, he did. That went a long way.”

Black started 12 of the 25 games he played for the Rockets, contributing major minutes when they needed him fill in due to injuries and the like. He was averaging 4.2 points and 5.1 rebounds in 15.7 minutes, and shooting .542 from the floor.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLWw98YP2LM

The 23-year-old big man’s best performance came Dec. 3 against his hometown Memphis Grizzlies — the team he would’ve faced Friday night with the Rockets.

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Black put up a double-double in Houston against the Grizzlies, going for 10 points and 11 rebounds in 23 minutes. What’s more, he put in serious work on the offensive glass, with nine boards on that end of the floor, while playing against the likes of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.

Following that performance, Black told Chen he has learned much about the NBA through his on-the-court experience.

“There’s a lot of talent, so you have to be on your p’s and q’s night in and night out,” Black said. “You have to listen to what the coach wants. You have to listen to the game plan. And you have to go out there and execute it in order to get wins.”

That quote is an example of what McHale spoke of, and other NBA teams have not only seen evidence Black can contribute, they also have heard good things about him. So even though the rookie had played single-digit minutes in four of Houston’s last five games, he could wind up with another franchise. And soon.

Wojnarowski reported more than one NBA team told him they have interest in claiming Black off waivers.


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.


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Reply 10 comments from Eric TheCapn Brian Skelly Armen Kurdian Texashawk10_2 Eric Sorrentino Len Shaffer Erich Hartmann Bill McGovern Jmfitz85 Ashwingrao

2014-15 season outlook: Tarik Black

Hunker down, get hydrated and tell your loved ones you will see them next spring.

Hopefully that’s not your mindset, but people should be warned: The at times seemingly never-ending NBA regular season is at hand.

The first handful of games tip off October 28, marking the start of the 82-game grind.

Thankfully for us, all we have to do is sit back, watch and enjoy. To make sure you’re fully prepared for the 2014-15 campaign, we’ll be rolling out a season outlook for each former Kansas University player who currently calls The Association home.

Tarik Black — Houston Rockets

6-foot-11 forward | First season

Houston Rockets' Tarik Black (10) goes to the basket against Memphis Grizzlies' Kosta Koufos in the first half of an NBA exhibition basketball game Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014, in Houston. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

Houston Rockets' Tarik Black (10) goes to the basket against Memphis Grizzlies' Kosta Koufos in the first half of an NBA exhibition basketball game Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014, in Houston. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

When no NBA team used a draft pick this summer on Tarik Black, it seemed his road to the league could end up being a circuitous one, perhaps beginning in a D-League city or overseas.

However, the robust post player who spent just one season at KU after transferring from Memphis earned himself an NBA contract with Houston by doing Tarik Black things in summer league games — see: rebounding, defending, having a 6-foot-11, 250-pound frame and knowing how to use it to his advantage.

The Rockets have so much money tied up in the contracts of Dwight Howard and James Harden, they had to fill their roster with inexpensive options who they thought could also make an impact on the team.

They appear to have done just that with Black. He isn’t going to be a go-to big off Houston’s bench, but he could work his way to consistent meaningful minutes and has proven himself to some extent in the preseason. The people running the organization know they can trust Black to practice hard and not mess anything up when they need to use him in a game.

Rockets coach Kevin McHale recently told the Houston Chronicle what he likes about Black:

“He is a guy who has rebounded well, spaces well,” McHale said. “Sets good screens, been active. I have been impressed. If you play hard all the time, you have a leg up on a lot of guys.”

In Houston’s six preseason games, Black has played between 10 and 26 minutes. When the Rockets kept him on the floor 26 minutes (with the big men ahead of him resting) against Memphis, he put up 10 points and 15 rebounds.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhjdCcmXzlU

Once considered a long shot to make the roster after signing for the league minimum, he has played enough in the preseason to indicate he could stick around and become a backup big — even if it’s at the end of the bench.

If Houston decides it likes Black as part of its plans going forward, the organization could still opt to send him to play with its D-League affiliate, Rio Grande Valley, in order to further his development.

With the Rockets’ personnel they are likely to play four-out/one-in, with just one true post player, meaning minutes behind Howard — and backups Joey Dorsey and Donatas Motiejunas — could be hard to come by.

Still, you can tell by listening to Black’s comments (in the above YouTube clip) that he is learning every minute that he is involved in this process, while playing his part on one of the best teams in the Western Conference.

And he has found some time to enjoy himself, too, by doing things such as out-dunking Howard:

None by Tarik Black

Well, maybe not.

None by Tarik Black

So what do we expect out of Black for the 2014-15 season?

Whether he is in Houston or the D-League, he’ll be competing like a maniac and soaking up all the knowledge he can to turn himself into a trusted NBA player.


’Hawks in the NBA 2014-15 season outlooks:

Cole Aldrich — Knicks

Darrell Arthur — Nuggets


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