As the start of training camp draws closer, the Los Angeles Lakers are continuing to piece together their roster. They have brought in a number of players — some of which will be nothing more than training camp invites — seemingly vying for only one or two available roster spots.
Today, they added to that list, as the team announced the signing of Robert Upshaw. The exact terms of the deal were not announced, per team policy, but it is a multi-year contract for the big man.
Upshaw was a fan favorite in Las Vegas during the team’s summer league run, plugging up the middle of the Lakers’ defense. The crowd constantly cheered him on whenever he got his hands on the basketball, and looked on with anticipation whenever he was engaged in a play defensively.
Although the terms have not been announced, it is hard to imagine this being a guaranteed deal.
The former Washington Husky has tremendous upside because of the physical tools he possesses. Unfortunately, he brings some baggage along with it, given his troubled past — which included being kicked off two different programs in college — along with his overall raw skill set.
The amount of potential that comes along with him, however, could earn him a spot on the roster this season, or a delegation to the D-League at the very least. Personally, I believe the latter would serve him best this season, seeing as he needs more in-game repetition to refine his game and conditioning.
If the Lakers do in fact hold on to Upshaw in some way, shape or form, they could possibly have a steal on their hands. Upshaw’s size and ability to block shots and anchor the Washington defense last year (4.5 blocks in 24.9 minutes per game) had him projected by many to be drafted in the first round back in June. However, his off-court issues and a reported heart problem caused his stock to plummet, leading to him never hearing his name called on draft night.
If Upshaw is able to leave his troubled past behind him and stay out of trouble going forward, the Lakers could potentially have another young building block on a cheap contract for at least the next few years.
Only time will tell how it all unfolds, but this is an excellent move by the Lakers. It gives them additional time in their evaluation process. Upshaw’s ceiling as a player certainly warranted at least a training camp invite and some preseason minutes. Many believed his upside was too enticing to pass on altogether, and the Lakers obviously shared that sentiment.