Lost in the shuffle of Kevin Durant’s decision to join the Golden State Warriors on July 4th was Tarik Black reaching an agreement to return to the Los Angeles Lakers on a two-year, $12.85 million deal. It would appear that Black will now get the opportunity to play as the primary backup center under new head coach Luke Walton, a chance he was denied for most of last season under Byron Scott.
Hindsight is 20/20, but it sounds like the Lakers agree with most impartial observers that Black should have been on the floor more last year. Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders reports that Black's lack of playing time under Scott was “an issue of contention" between the organization and their coach.
Some could say "well of course the Lakers are saying that now that Scott's gone and they re-signed Black.” However, the team quickly snapping up the third-year center before another team could have a chance to throw an offer sheet his way would seem to anecdotally confirm they do value his ability to play in pick-and-rolls and protect the rim despite the size deficit he faces at center every night.
Whether the team and Scott really disagreed on his playing time is now essentially a moot point, because Scott is gone and Black is back, but this news does suggest that the Lakers do have plans for Tarik, and that the backup five role behind Timofey Mozgov should be his to lose when the team starts training camp.
You can follow this author on Twitter at @hmfaigen.