NBA

Tarik Black.

L.A. Lakers front office couldn't understand why Byron Scott froze out Tarik Black

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The L.A. Lakers endured their fair share of turmoil last season en route to waving goodbye to one of their greatest ever players in Kobe Bryant.

The Black Mamba's farewell tour took centre stage during a season where many of the Purple and Gold's younger talent should have been given their chance to shine.

Instead, the Lakers only tallied up 17 wins and Byron Scott manipulated the rotation so Bryant could get his fill in his 20th and final season at the Staples Center.

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Scott very publicly butted heads with last year's second overall draft pick D'Angelo Russell and couldn't settle on whether Julius Randle or Larry Nance Jr should operate at the power forward spot.

Curiously, another one the Lakers' young gems, Tarik Black, also suffered a sharp decline in minutes after making an impact during the 2014-15 season. The 24-year-old undrafted center arrived in L.A. after getting waived by the Houston Rockets and averaged 21.1 minutes per game.

After putting up an average of 7.2 points and 6.3 rebounds during that campaign, it was expected the 6'9" center would continue his development during the 2016-17 season, but, instead, he found his role drastically reduced.

Black's minutes were almost cut in half to an average of 12.7 across 39 games and he wasn't trusted to start even once, compared to the 27 times the previous term.

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Roy Hibbert's arrival in L.A. should hardly have deterred Black; the former Pacers pivot weighed in 75th - dead last - in offensive efficiency for centers in the league last year.

So what was the excuse for Scott's perseverance with Hibbert? What did Black do so wrong? According to Eric Pincus of the Basketball Insiders, the Lakers brass has been asking themselves the same questions.

"The sense I get, the Lakers never quite understood why B. Scott didn’t play Tarik Black more, was an issue of contention"

New dawn

Of course, Scott is in the past for the Lakers now. Luke Walton is the new head coach after Scott received his marching orders shortly after the season's climax and although he claimed to be surprised, after recording the worst season in the franchise's history isn't the best argument to keep your job.

Los Angeles Lakers Introduce Luke Walton

With Walton comes a feel good factor that he might be able to translate the Golden State Warriors' - of whom he was assistant coach last year and led them to a 24-0 start in the league in head coach Steve Kerr's absence - style to the Staples Center.

With the addition of the second overall draft pick Bradon Ingram, the Lakers have once again added to their talented young core and it will be interesting to see if Black's minutes improve in the wake of Scott's departure.

Topics:
NBA
Julius Randle
LA Lakers
Pacific Division
Western Conference
D'Angelo Russell
Kobe Bryant

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