The last update we had on Robert Upshaw was that the Lakers had no immediate plans to sign the undrafted big man. That report, combined with the Lakers inking undrafted players Jonathan Holmes and Michael Frazier to contracts this summer cast real doubts about whether Upshaw really would find his way into Lakers’ camp.
However, in an interview with Scout.com following the Seattle Pro-Am game in Seattle on Friday, Upshaw gave an update on his status with the team:
Of note is that Upshaw does strongly imply he will go to camp with the Lakers. Also of note is his confirmation there is no deal with the team as of yet though he does “know (he) will be a Laker” if he “does the right things; does what (he) needs to do.”
When taking a step back, thinking about what the Lakers have done to this point in the off-season, and hearing Upshaw’s comments, my takeaway from all of this is pretty straight forward. The Lakers seem pretty intent on not handing Upshaw any sort of guarantees too early in the process, wanting instead to use the prospect of earning a spot on the team as a carrot to motivate him. Upshaw is a player with a history of off-court issues and keeping him on the proper path — whatever the means — is to the benefit of the player and, hopefully, the team.
That said, I see no guarantee Upshaw actually makes the team even if he keeps on the straight and narrow. He must also play well in the process. Summer league isn’t a great predictor of anything, but Upshaw was out of shape and was not, as the tournament went on, very impactful beyond setting some good screens on offense. He will need to show he’s ready to .
Fans, of course, may not like to hear that. Upshaw is viewed as a young player with promise at a position of need. His situation, and that of the Lakers, is not really that straight forward, though. And it’s clear the Lakers are balancing those variables when making a decision on what type of future, if any, Upshaw has with the team. We will see how things go in camp.