The Lakers have been active on the undrafted free agent market in recent days, signing Jonathan Holmes to a 2-year contract on Thursday and agreeing to a 2-year contract with Michael Frazier on Sunday. With this activity, a persisting question is when the Lakers would follow through on signing Robert Upshaw to the contract they reportedly agreed to after the team’s first summer league game.
Well, it looks like we have an answer and it’s not exactly the one I’m guessing a lot of fans were hoping for:
I hear the Lakers have no immediate plan to sign undrafted center Robert Upshaw, though he still remains a possibility
— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) August 16, 2015
As Pincus notes, Upshaw remains a possibility and I wouldn’t be surprised if he still gets an invite to camp on a “make good” contract. Whether that contract would have any guarantees — even small ones like those which appeared in Holmes’ and Frazier’s contracts — is unknown.
Especially since, I’d imagine, the team is greatly balancing his history of off-court issues with the promise he exhibits on the floor. Unlike other UDFA’s the team might deal with this summer, Upshaw has both a higher probability of becoming a sunk cost just as he has a higher ceiling and potential to become a long term piece.
For what it’s worth, after Upshaw’s play in Las Vegas, I thought he was both a prospect worth investing financial and time resources into as well as a player who looked a long ways off from being a contributing, rotation player. For all his physical tools and obvious basketball ability, Upshaw was clearly not in great condition and had long stretches where he did not look as quick with his reactions as I’d hoped.
However, as noted — and this would be contingent on whether my due diligence regarding his off-court issues checked out in the clear — I still would sign him if it were my decision to do so. Legit seven-footers with his length and instincts as a shot blocker are rare. And even if he never develops into more than a screen setting, hard diving roll man offensively who can alter and block shots defensively, a small contract is worth it.
If he develops into more than that — a pick and roll big who draws extra help on rolls and a sometimes post up threat who can hit the occasional jump hook all while bringing plus defense — a small guaranteed contract becomes a major steal. Projecting him to become that isn’t a reach, but it’s also not nearly a guarantee. And when you add the potential for off-court issues to arise, the decision becomes murky quickly.
So, we’ll see what the team does. As Pincus reports, the door certainly isn’t closed. It’s just not as open as it once seemed to be.