Lakers claim Tarik Black off waivers, create roster spot by waiving Xavier Henry

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Tarik Black wasn’t selected by anyone in the 2014 NBA Draft, but caught on with the Rockets at Summer League and made the roster after strong performances in both the Orlando and Las Vegas offseason events.

He’s shown some promise as an interesting big man prospect, and averaged 4.2 points and 5.1 rebounds in 25 regular season appearances for Houston this season, while averaging 15.2 minutes per contest.

But once Josh Smith became available, the Rockets were in need of a roster spot, and waived Black to get what the team believes will be an instant upgrade in Smith instead of waiting to see how the rookie’s long term development may ultimately play out.

The Lakers, in need of exactly these types of players, claimed Black off of waivers.

From Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

The Los Angeles Lakers claimed rookie center Tarik Black off waivers on Sunday, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

The Lakers waived injured forward Xavier Henry to clear a roster spot for Black, sources said. …

Black has a non-guaranteed deal of $500,000 owed him for the season, and the Lakers will possess a team option of $845,000 on his deal for the 2015-16 season.

It’s a shame about Henry, who showed flashes of athleticism with the Lakers last season. But injuries have made him unavailable, so it makes sense for L.A. to take a chance on a different young talent instead.

As the Lakers look to rebuild their roster, promising young players on non-guaranteed, small-scale deals are inexpensive, low-risk options — especially if they end up turning into guys who can play meaningful minutes in the rotation.

The Charlotte Hornets were also ready to claim Black off of waivers, but the Lakers had the priority thanks to having a worse record in the standings.