Los Angeles Lakers center Tarik Black’s 2016-17 season saw him move in and out of the starting lineup, playing as part of a super-effective bench unit early in the year before briefly helping a dynamic group of starters after the All-Star break.
Black averaged 5.7 points and 5.1 rebounds while shooting 51.2 percent from the field for the team, and posted the fourth-best net rating on the roster, with the Lakers being outscored by just 1.9 points per 100 possessions with Black on the floor.
During his exit interview with the media, Black said Lakers Head Coach Luke Walton, team president Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka told him “they liked what they saw” from him.
“I got a chance to pick their brains a little bit,” Black said. “We got to talk about moving into the future.”
As for whether that future will entail staying with the Lakers, Black (whose contract is non-guaranteed for next season) said he believes he will be back.
Beyond his own confidence, Tarik Black has optimism he'll return bc Magic/Pelinka offered him tips to improve instead of saying goodbyes— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) April 13, 2017
Regardless of where he ends up, however, Black said he’s going to work.
“I feel like I’ve established myself as an NBA player,” Black said. “But I’ll be the first to tell you I need to get better.
“I can definitely get better offensively, and developing my body as well,” Black added. “I will always work on my game, I will always get better, and I will never take a position of comfort.”
And beyond whether or not he remains with the Lakers, Black’s repeated assertions that he knows he’s an NBA player made it clear he feels confident that no matter what happens with the Lakers this summer, he has a place in this league.
“I’m going to go into the summer and work my butt off,” Black said. “I’m very fortunate that it looks like I’m going to get another year in the NBA again.”
All stats per NBA.com. and Basketball-Reference.com. All quotes transcribed via Periscope. Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here, or listen to our thoughts on the season below), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.