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Rockets 2017-18 player previews: Tarik Black

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He’s back, y’all.

NBA: Houston Rockets-Media Day Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

A Rockets great has returned home.

In perhaps the greatest return to Houston since Trevor Ariza, Tarik Black is back.

I can vividly remember the former PA voice of the Rockets, John Paul Stevenson, introduce him into games during the 2014-15 campaign.

“At center, 6-9, from Kansas, #10… TAAAAAAARRRRIIIIIKKKKKKKKKKKK BLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKK!!!!”

Black had a solid career here in Houston in just 25 games. As a guy who wasn’t expected to make the roster out of camp, Black surprised many and made the team getting minutes right away as Dwight Howard’s backup.

Most of the reason why Black got a spot on the roster was because Howard’s original backup, Clint Capela, was not ready to step on an NBA court yet. Now, his return to Houston has Black’s role reversed, he’s Capela’s backup now.

The signing of Black was simply a depth move in order to create quite possibly the deepest Rockets squad in years.

In 2.5 seasons with the Lakers, Black averaged 5.5 PPG with 5.1 RPG. His PER 36 numbers are even more impressive, 11.9 PPG and 11.2 RPG. Black is very much a solid player in the NBA, and unfortunately will probably get less minutes this season than he would have gotten if he was playing for a lesser team.

Black is going into his age-25 season making just north of $3 million. He was scheduled to make $6.6 million last season before the Lakers waived him this summer.

He could be playing a lot more and making a lot more money with a different team, but he chose Houston because he is in it to win it.

Black is taking a page out of Arian Foster’s playbook and is just trying to be the best teammate he can be.

Black will play sparingly, but with Nene’s fragile injury history and Capela also getting dinged up from time to time, he will see the floor at some point during the season. Coach D’Antoni likes to sit Nene in one game of back-to-backs, and the Rockets have a handful of those in the upcoming season.

Black is an undersized center, which works well for an offense like Houston’s. He can space the floor and be the post presence the Rockets need in the second unit when they need him.

Coupled with games featuring garbage time, I expect Black to play 50-60 games this season. He is not the most important player on the team but he is an underrated signing. He went under the radar with the acquisitions of Chris Paul, P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute, but all in all, Black is a glue guy, a player who Harden has experience playing with, and someone who will make a major contribution for the team this season.