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.
Judging from the small sample size of summer league, I thought Upshaw has an upside. Perhaps the Lakers’ hesitation and uncertainty stems from his purported off court issues. I just hope that Bob doesn’t become the next H. Whiteside… A real player that the Lakers let slip thru their fingers. As always, time will tell.
Upshaw has to much potential to pass on. Need to see how he looks in training camp before deciding to pass on him.
Robert Webb says
See if he can rehabilitate him self the money and the fame is worth more than drugs any day. Robert don’t be silly.
Reposted as my comment applies to Upshaw, the one UDFA, I thought the Lakers should pursue.
How many UDFA players does our FO expect to make the team? I mean, what is a realistic number here…three or four? Isn’t that a pretty high number? How many UDFA’s have made any team’s rotation?
I think this is the equivalent of Jim Buss buying a lotto ticket from a player personnel perspective. If we are counting on these guys to make the regular season roster isn’t that a sure fire sign that our FO has lost it?
With the Lakers FO signing so many UDFA I’d have to say the delay with Upshaw is either his agent (wanting more $) or continued off-court issues. It’s very unfortunate for the Lakers, as I always thought Upshaw was the one ‘Hail Mary’ pass that might come through.
To anonymous’ point, above. –how many of these UDFA really come through?
I think that Upshaw may have hurt himself by coming into Summer League in such horrendous shape. I’ve seen videos of his play at the U. of Washington this last year and he looked nothing like the soft, slow, lumbering player from Summer League. He was spry, active, aggressive, and played above the rim on both ends of the court.
I understand that Upshaw may have been focused on other, more personal issues since his dismissal from the U of W team. But the time to get serious about basketball is now. I would guess that he will probably be invited to the Lakers preseason camp. But he’ll have to be in MUCH better shape and give Mitch and Byron a solid sense of whether he can play a role on this Lakers team or not.
Considering that his competition is Robert Sacre, I would think that he has a rather low bar to clear. I sincerely hope that the Lakers bring him into camp and that Upshaw shows up in considerably better shape. It’s either that or the D League (in which case, any NBA team could grab him).
There’s actually a lot riding on this Pre-season for Robert Upshaw. Let’s hope that he can pull things together in time. The meter’s running.
If Lakers mess this up!!!????…he’s 7’0 and plays D…sign the man!!
Maybe the problem is trying to fill out the roster with so many undrafted players – there’s usually a reason they are undrafted.
FO is assuming they are smarter and have better scounts then other teams that passed on many of these ubdrafted or released guys.
Both is untrue based on the moves and embarrising record the last two years. This team is looking like a low budget baseball team that can’t afford quality players and just fills uniforms.
Its not changing until a all new mangement team with a real plan is brought in.
the other Stephen says
I have no critique of the front office. I simply want to watch Upshaw play.
Given his obvious upside, do we know for sure that Upshaw is actually willing to sign the type of contract Holmes and Frazier got? Maybe his agent thinks that it’s better for him not to sign a multi-year minimum contract right now.
As for the number of UDFA players, it’s just a cheap way of filling out the roster (we had a lot of players on guaranteed contracts to begin with). A few years ago Elias Harris also got a partially guaranteed multi-year contract and got cut before the full guarantee for the season kicked in. I don’t think the FO expects UDFA players to become key pieces but if somebody turns out to be useful he will be around for a while on a cheap contract. It’s a low-risk decent-reward situation.
I’m not sold on Sacre……I think lose him and sign Upshaw. Granted Robert wasn’t in the best shape of his life or even close to it…..but the reality is once he does…..he is light years ahead of Sacre. Hands down. Let him play in the D- League and go from there…..his instincts, timing and just all around court sense makes him so much better than Sacre.
The news on Upshaw as I complained a few threads backs seems to always be an enigma. Based on talent alone I want Upshaw on the Lakers roster. I have to wonder as to what is not being said as to why he has not been signed.
How many way can the fo screw up sign the man he is better then sacre to get better one must take chances lately they have missed out or let people go they should have kept
All I want to know is, after one month removed from Summer Leagues is Robert Upshaw working out at the Laker’s facility and is he working with the coaches daily?
Where is that report? I know he was outta shape a month ago but what about the here and now? If the Laker’s F.O. is worried about anything it should be the fact they past on Kristaps Porzingis. DMFA-holes!
J C says
As Mid Wilshire says, his summer league play didn’t match his college repute, but he’ll have opportunities here and elsewhere if he gets into shape.
Movonup’s question re Upshaw’s current activities is the correct one. What’s he doing now – the answer probably tells why he hasn’t been signed. Or if he looks great, his agent is stopping him from signing a low-ball Laker offer.
On Pincus’s Twitter, a respondent alleged that Upshaw hadn’t signed yet because of a legal matter that had yet to be cleared up. No idea whether that’s true, but it makes a certain amount of sense regarding this weird limbo period, following the reports that he’d signed a 2-year deal.
I suppose it all comes down to trusting that the Lakers realize that a 7-footer with some skills is a valuable commodity — as outlined in the post above — and worth taking a risk on, assuming he’s not compromised by some other issue, of which Upshaw has a few that we know of. I’m going to assume the Lakers do know this, and the delay relates to factors we aren’t privy to yet.
Possibilities for the non-committment on Robert Upshaw:
1) agent wanted a lot more than what the Lakers or other teams were willing to give. Note that he hasn’t signed with other teams, either.
2) team saw some other issues during Summer League
3) (less likely) team and agent had a handshake agreement that allows Lakers to address other issues first and sign Robert Upshaw at the last minute.
Makes you wonder what else is going on since Upshaw hasn’t signed with another team besides the Lakers.
#Whiteside, both sides are gonna lose out on a big opportunity.
Here’s a crazy hunch I have. The Lakers aren’t missing out on a lot with Upshaw. This hunch is only based on considering what I’ve heard and what he “showed” in Summer League – I did see him stand in the key and visually track the ball – so it’s apparent he understands the ball has something to do with the game of basketball. Other than that, however, there’s not a lot to go on. Except it appears he’s regressed when he needs to, you know, progress.
The Lakers roster is currently at 13:
Guards: Kobe, Clarkson, Russell, Williams
Forwards: Bass, Randle, Kelly, Nance, Young, Brown
Centers: Hibbert, Sacre, Black
Of these only Black is an UDFA. So I suppose the last two spots could go to UDFAs, which would bring the total to three on our roster (20%). Of course, Sacre and Kelly are on low cost contracts and could be let go with minimal pain. If Sacre/Kelly are replaced with UDFAs then the percentage goes up to 5/15 or 30%.
Bottom line for me, three roster spots going to UDFAs doesn’t bother me because that’s end of the bench kind of numbers. If it goes to 5 players that seems high and would indicate that:
1) we have great scouting
2) we think we have great scouting
3) we are trying to fill out a roster on the cheap
4) we can’t fill out the roster with proven talent so we are left using unproven talent
The following roster was provided by Darius in his recent post. I added the draft round in which the player was selected.
Guards and Wings
D’Angelo Russell: 1st round
Jordan Clarkson: 2nd round
Kobe Bryant: 1st round
Lou Williams 2nd round
Nick Young: 1st round
Jabari Brown: UDFA
Anthony Brown: 2nd round
Julius Randle: 1st round
Brandon Bass: 2nd round
Ryan Kelly: 2nd round
Larry Nance Jr.: 1st round
Jonathan Holmes: UDFA
Roy Hibbert: 1st round
Tarik Black: UDFA
Robert Sacre: 2nd round
9 of our current roster players are 2nd round pick or UDFAs. That’s 60% of our players who were not 1st round picks. Even conceding that Clarkson was a steal, isn’t that percentage way too high? And that number doesn’t take into account Michael Frazier or the possibility of adding Upshaw.
By contrast the Warriors only have 3 players on their roster that were 2nd round or UDFAs. The Spurs, who pride themselves on finding the hidden jewel have seven 2nd round/UDFAs on their roster.
Kevin and Keith: The high number of 2nd round picks and UDFAs is directly due to the FOs obsession with signing elite free agents. When you want maximum cap flexibility it means you aren’t looking to hand out multi-year deals and proven veterans want those. So by default you look to have as many 2nd rounders/UDFAs who can be had on low cost, 1 year or partially guaranteed deals.
The more you think about it — our approach isn’t that far from the 76ers. They trade talent to get worse and secure a high draft pick. We’re awful because we can’t sign anyone good and then we fill the roster with flotsam waiting for the next elite free agent buffet — stinking up the place in the meantime.
Both teams suck.
Well kinda – the lakers have a scarcity of first rounders in large part because they have traded them away to secure other players. Don’t look now but this scarcity will most likely continue over the next several years because it’s likely two of the next three first round picks are going away to pay for the Nash/Howard rentals.
Both teams suck.
I don’t think that the Lakers are intentionally trying to lose like the 76ers are. However, the Lakers have very little downside protection built into their recent rosters. As a result injuries and under performance hit the team hard. That’s why we’ve had such poor records theses past two years — we only go about 6 deep with players that can actually positively impact the game.
I think this year is no exception. We’re a 30 win team. With no guarantee of keeping our draft pick and without a deep free agent class this summer its looking like next year won’t be much better. We could very well challenge the longest number of years streak between Lakers championships since the team moved to Los Angeles. That streak is currently at 12 years (1988 – 2000). I don’t see how this team makes the playoffs the rest of the decade.
I’ve routed for Upshaw, and I hope he makes the roster or atleast training camp. But the bottom line is his condition and his off court activities. There may be things going on behind the scenes that we don’t know about We know about Upshaw’s history in college and so does front office. So I think right now lakers are keeping a close eye on him to make sure he means what he says and he’s not allowing him self to get distracted before they make anything official with him.
The problem with approaching this situation like this your taking an even bigger risk than if you just sign the guy, and stash him in the Dleague or letting him practice with the team and not giving any minutes and letting him sit on the bench if you have to. This is not exactly the time to leave your lunch outside on your porch when you know there’s wolves outside. The point I’m trying to make is, don’t expect other teams to say ‘well, we’ll wait to see what the lakers do with him before we make him an offer’. As long as he remains on the open market, the more chances he signs else where. Im sure right now he’s on everyone’s radar and teams are not going to let another ‘Whietside’ get past them if they have the chance to sign him they will! I won’t be surprised if he get an offer from another team simlar to the one the lakers gave undrafted rookie Michael Frazier ii with $50,000 garenteed and rest up in the air. Just my thoughts, but I’m sure good ol Mitch know’s what he’s doing.
Chris J says
When I was a kid I recall having conversations with fellow fans about the “What if…?” potential of end-of-the-bench guys. “If Tony Campbell this or if Orlando Woolridge that…” then the Lakers would become a Superteam, unstoppable by anyone, anywhere.
As a adult, with a dearth of sure fire Hall of Fame talent anywhere near the playing floor aside from whatever Kobe still has left, I find myself less concerned about end-of-the-bench questions such as Upshaw.
The front office sees him more than we do. If they didn’t see a diamond in the rough here, so be it. There are much more pressing concerns in Lakerland at present.
6 of the 12 players the Cavs have on their current roster are 2nd rounders/UDFA. That’s a percentage similar to ours. How come they are so much better than the Lakers?
ESPN sources say Jonas Valanciunas has indeed taken brief leave from Lithuanian NT to return to Toronto to firm up extension with Raptors.
Yet another player who will not hit restricted free agency this summer. I think there will be fewer and fewer talented young players that hit the free agency market in the future.
Jonas was in a group of players (Harrison Barnes, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Myers Leonard) who might hit the restricted free agency pool and could be had with an aggressive offer. The Intriguing part was that each of these folks were young – all 23. I am a big advocate of pursuing younger players as opposed to those vets that hit un-restricted free agency – usually at 29 or 30 (they are expensive and have high mileage).
I ask this question rhetorically, with the Lakers unlikely to keep their own pick, a very thin free agent market (KD and…?) and as mentioned a shallow restricted free agency pool — how will the Lakers improve?
Did our FO think about this when they passed on Greg Monroe twice, as a restricted free agent and as a free agent? How are we going to add talent to this team? And is rolling cap space forward every year a viable strategy?
ESPN.com just came out with their NBA record predictions for the Eastern Conference today. They’ll come out with the Western Conference tomorrow. Curious to see how they project the Lakers this year.
Good guess. (My own guess would be 32-50.)
This next year, of course, is NOT about wins and losses but about the development of our young talent. I’m more interested in our win/loss record two years from now. Right now, let’s just focus on developing Randle, Clarkson, Russell, et. al. That’s what this next year is all about. Wins and losses for 2015-16 are almost irrelevant (unless your name is Byron Scott).
Mid: Agreed, we have to give the kids extended floor time. The season will be a success, even if we go 30-52, but we learn that we have a solid foundation to build on. However, if we go 30-52 and the kids are still an unknown then the season would be a failure.
ESPN will say 25 wins. They have been saying all summer they think we are a bottom 3 three.
ESPN will say 25 wins. They have been saying all summer they think we are a bottom 3
What I want to know is will Jeanie call Jim when the forecast comes out? “Jim, I thought you said playoffs? ESPN says we’re going 25 – 57. What’s going on here?”
Mid: “unless you are Byron Scott” Others will be concerned as well (on this board and others), but Scott will be the reason. You see, there is a contingent who think that the Lakers will only go 30-52 because Scott is an idiot. Even if we go 35-47, it will be because Scott is an idiot. He will be an idiot to some unless we make the playoffs. My view is similar to what you said. Let’s focus on development of players and judge Scott on that. A playoff spot would deserve COY and a statue in front of Staples. Barring that statue it is 50/50 that Byron gets a $4+ million paid vacation at the end of this season. He will deserve it after the daily lampooning he will take this year.
J C says
ESPN will have us much worse than this, but I think the Lakers could win as many as 37-38 games. A 38-44 record won’t get us into the playoffs but we’ll be knocking on the door.
If our 3 young ‘stars’ develop well, we make look attractive enough next off season to get a decent FA. If not, Mitch will engineer a trade that will improve us.
I think we’re on the road back now. And if not, Jim may be on the road out of town.
pat oslon says
We will have a few bright spots but it’s going to be a long , arduous season, ladies and gentlemen.
Since no one is really talking about Russell to much I want use this comment to talk a little about Dangelo Russell and his role in this season and the rest of his career. I was bored trying to figure out if Upshaw should be signed or not, so I pulled up as many videos on YouTube on Russell trying pick apart what kind of player he will become. I came to the conclusion that Russell won’t be a point guard in this league and anyone who uses him as plain PG will be holding him back. When you think of 2 guards you don’t think about shooting guards as distributors that can get 10 assist in every other game, you think of them as one of the 2, either a flat out scorer or a slasher that can shoot the three. Well I have news for you, Russell is shooting guard in the NBA that might borderline average a triple double in the league.
Alot players in the league realize one thing there first game in the NBA, they can’t play the same way they did in high school or college they get to the league and either get the reality check or some wise old man tells them ‘hey if you did this this way I think you’ll be more effective’ and then a star is born that kind of looks like they came out of nowhere. Russell’s skill set tells me that whoever foresees him to be a plain point guard in this league, will be leading him into failure in the NBA and you’ll hear all the ‘he’s a bust’ comments everywhere. The guys a scorer. Put him on the floor with a another point guard that doesn’t need to score, knows how to run the offense and you will see Russell become an Allstar before you know it. You try double him he’ll make you a fool by getting 12 15 assist easy. You let him do what he wants he’ll average 25 points a night on who ever is guarding him. The point im trying to make with all this is Dangelo Russell is not the point guard that people think he is, he’s the shooting guard of the future.
this guy says
All the crazy talk above compelled me to comment…
I don’t think the team is or will be as bad as many people think…. when Kobe is on the court full-season, he’s rarely a part of a sub 40-win team… now he has young guys who can develop while he waits for later in the season… the issue before was mda n Scott running him ragged for their saving face….
We are going to see another version of Kobe obviously, he’s shed weight and he adapts every offseason based on last… assuming these usa Olympic talk is about him wanting to test his medal before the season is underway
Clarkson’ shown he has more upside than anyone anticipated… Julius randle has enough versatility and intelligence to be a generational player… Holmes upside to me seems extraordinary… there’s a strong unit of young players who can get better quickly as they gel and take guidance from 2 championship Lakers n Scott n Bryant…
Hibbert has something to prove and has said all the right things about resurfacing as a D threat Upshaw would be nice, but Holmes may have made him more indispensable, esp. if there’s issues we don’t now about
Lakers have had a great off-season so far… I haven’t looked into the most recent signing…. It’s going to be competitive at every position… and there’s too many players so seems Mitch is still angling to make a trade with some of these assets…
By the way I totally called ESPN giving us 26 wins (i said 25).
@Prob I think most experts were saying he is a combo guard. That is why he got a ton of Harden comps. The other comps he gets are Steph Curry (no a pure point and plays as much SG as any PG in the league. That is also why he shoots 16+ shots a game). Combo guards are actually all the rage. How many true PG are even starters right now. Best PG are almost all combo PG/SG: Curry, Harden, Lillard, Westbrook just off the top of my head.
Also that’s why the Lakers like Clarkson so much. He is also somewhat of a combo guard (more SG than PG). Both will have ball handling duties and both will be asked to score.
Patrick Lanigan says
Gotta be a reason we don’t know about because at this point not signing Upshaw looks pretty dumb.