Leading up to free agency, the last puzzle piece to clear up the Lakers’ salary cap picture involved big man Tarik Black.
Last summer, Black signed a two-year deal worth just over $12 million. The second year of the deal, however, was non-guaranteed for roughly $6.6 million
The deadline for Black’s deal to be waived before it became fully guaranteed was July 4. With the deadline looming, the Lakers needed to make a decision on Black’s deal prior to the official start of free agency, and on Saturday, they did.
Black proved to be a useful player for the Lakers last season, averaging 5.7 points and 5.1 rebounds in 16.3 minutes. Black started 16 of the 67 games he featured in and looked to be potentially part of the core moving forward.
His career started with the Lakers in 2014-15 when he was claimed off waivers after being cut by the Houston Rockets. Statistically, Black’s best year was with the Lakers in his rookie season where he averaged 7.2 points and 6.3 rebounds in 38 games and 21.1 minutes per night.
However, with the Lakers making a more aggressive move to pace-and-space basketball, highlighted by the addition of Brook Lopez, Black’s days seemed numbered. While he’s a great energy player and rebounder with surprising leaping ability, his game is heavily centered around the basket.
With the teams’ spending power already limited, opening up an extra $6.6 million seemed like the likeliest of routes all along.
Black will now be free to sign with any team as a free agent, including potentially the Lakers at a cheaper price. The Lakers, meanwhile, open up roughly $17 million in cap space total for the summer.