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Tarik Black is in the midst of a surprisingly strong rookie campaign that started with the Houston Rockets, where he actually got the chance to start and play significant minutes for them. Black went undrafted this offseason after underwhelming stints at Memphis and Kansas in college, but has proven to be one of the rare cases of a player being better in the NBA than he is in the NCAA. A clear late bloomer who is willing to do the little things and always work hard, there was virtually no chance of Black clearing waivers after being waived by the Rockets primarily due to a numbers game in order to make room for Josh Smith.
The Charlotte Hornets were said to be interested in Black, but by virtue of having a worse record the Lakers were able to claim the big man first. However, he doesn’t necessarily play a position of need for the Lakers, which creates suspicion about what could be next. The Lakers had to waive Xavier Henry, who was out for the year with a ruptured Achilles, to create a spot for Black – but already have a crowded center position with Jordan Hill, Ed Davis and Robert Sacre.
There is a market for big men right now, though, primarily in the Cleveland Cavaliers. They just lost Anderson Varejao for the year and have long been rumored to be interested in an additional center even prior to losing their starter for the year. Hill and Davis could provide major boosts for them in light of Varejao’s absence, but they have also been linked to Sacre in previous reports as well.
Black may not get his chance early on with the Lakers as there are not a bunch of minutes to be had at the center spot. He’s going to have to be patient and wait for an opportunity to be created for him by a trade, which may not be too far away. In the cellar of the Western Conference with no interest in tanking for a draft pick (intentionally anyway), the Lakers are definitely a team to keep an eye on in trade talks.
This is a quality pickup for the Minnesota Timberwolves as Raduljica proved beyond any doubt that he’s one of the best 400 players in the world during the most recent FIBA international tournament. He helped lead Serbia to a silver medal finish, but settled for playing in the CBA as he couldn’t find a NBA deal to his liking.
The Timberwolves should provide him the best opportunity of his career to showcase himself at this level. At 26 years of age he fits in perfectly to their rebuilding plans and will provide depth on their frontline.
Raduljica’s first NBA action came with the Milwaukee Bucks. They traded him this past summer to the Los Angeles Clippers, who cut him to save costs as they worked under a hard salary cap and needed to make room for more experienced talent.
From a rebuilding standpoint, no Carmelo Anthony is probably better for the Knicks in all honesty. The 30 year old is putting up big numbers once again – but, once again, they’re far from enough to make his team competitive. The Knicks are stuck in the middle of a rebuilding process that has created an identity crises this season. They’re one of the worst teams in the league and at this point need to be focused more on ping pong balls for the NBA Draft Lottery than they do putting unnecessary mileage on Anthony’s legs with nothing to play for.
The Knicks are going to have their own first round pick this year, which looks like it could be as high as No. 1 overall. That’d be a big boost as team president Phil Jackson looks to reconstruct the roster this summer, especially with so many talented big men on board.
With Anthony out, Knicks coach Derek Fisher can focus more on developing the other players on the roster, finding out who is worth keeping through next season and hopefully flip guys after showcasing them at the deadline for valuable, long-term assets.
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