Robert Upshaw told us he was going to go to Lakers’ training camp and it looks like he was right. Today the team officially announced his signing via press release:
The Los Angeles Lakers have signed center Robert Upshaw to a multi-year contract, it was announced today by General Manager Mitch Kupchak. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not released.
The still unknown terms of the contract are important, but likely not a huge difference maker here. My assumption is that Upshaw’s deal is either fully non-guaranteed like Marcelo Huertas’ or has only small, partial guarantees like those given to Jonathan Holmes and Michael Frazier. In either case, Upshaw will have to prove his worth in training camp to crack the final 15 and earn a roster spot. (UPDATE: Baxter Holmes of ESPN is reporting Upshaw’s deal has a partial guarantee in the 1st year and is fully non-guaranteed in the 2nd year. While not outright stated, I am assuming his contract is for the minimum both years.)
(UPDATE II: Eric Pincus of the LA Times is reporting that $35K of Upshaw’s first year salary is guaranteed. The 2nd year, as Holmes also reported, is non-guaranteed. The totals for the contract are (roughly) $525K in year one and $875K in year 2.)
The fact that we’ve gotten to this point, though, should not be ignored. Yes, Upshaw said he’d be joining camp (while adding he thinks he’ll make the team), but the rhetoric coming out of the Lakers’ front office did not make any such assurances. Those statements were likely just the carrot the team was hanging out in front of the big man as motivation to do what was needed of him, but the chance he wouldn’t was always there.
Of course, just because he’s heading to camp with a contract in hand only means the real work begins. While fans might not think much of some of the players ahead of Upshaw on the depth chart (especially Robert Sacre), the Lakers front office does. Upshaw has a steep hill to climb in order to make this team, likely having to beat out more than one player who the team has already invested time and resources developing. Doing so will not only require leaving his personal issues in the past, but bringing his best game with him into the present and future.
Make no mistake, too, this kid does have talent and is worth this extended look. He is a massive man with an enormous wingspan who put up some eye popping numbers his final college season — especially defensively. He showed some promise in summer league too, before fading as the tournament progressed, likely dealing with fatigue and rust from not playing since his dismissal from the University of Washington.
Beyond his off-court dealings, whether he can get in the shape he’ll need to, have his defensive ability translate, and start to polish his offensive game enough are real questions that will determine his Lakers’ future. The team, though, is making a gamble that he can. If it turns out he actually does, they may have a steal on their hands. We’ve got a long way to go before we know if that’s the case, but that journey will start in two weeks in Hawaii.
I have been rooting for this kid since before the draft. I really hope he makes the final roster. I think he has the potential to be great.
I’ve been hoping for the Lakers to snatch this guy up. I’m really hoping they keep him. I’m sure he will be great for the team, especially as they rebuild with youth.
Yes sir, #LakersNation is excited to see Robert come to training camp in great shape! #noexcuses
Upshaw > Bynum?
Awesome! Yes! If Upshaw pans out as the Lakers future starting center, hopefully, (for Dr. Buss’ sake) Jim Buss will be fully absolved for previously perceived mistakes. Now, get Olajuwon and the Cap to work on his game both offensively and defensively.
I marvel at the optimism Lakers fans have. Sure, I want Upshaw to be a home run, ala Miami’s Whiteside. But the reality is that making it in the NBA is hard.
Black, J Brown, Buyucks, Frazier, Holmes and Upshaw are all undrafted players. Realistically, how many will make the team and an impact on the floor?
Bass, A. Brown, Clarkson, Kelly, Sacre and Williams are all 2nd rounders. The Lakers are pushing it with Clarkson, Bass and Wiliams contributing. What are the odds that more 2nd rounders will see meaningful action?
I tip my hat at the FO for looking high and low for talent, but if you are looking at filling half of your NBA roster from undrafted players or 2nd round picks then you may be betting on lady luck a little too much.
That’s why I think the Lakers will struggle this year. Its a talent driven league and the Lakers are currently on the short end of that stick.
Nice. Things are slowly falling into place. Im not expecting we make the playoffs but I am expecting something to get excited about.
Great signing! This kid will make the 15 man squad if he keeps his nose clean and works hard in camp. He’s already the 2nd Best Center on this Lakers team!
Well, the ball is in Robert’s court. Now it’s up to him to make it impossible for the Lakers to let him go. I’m really rooting for him, because if he develops into a real player Upshaw will open up a ton of possibilities for building the team Lakers fans want.
Upshaw is very talented but with a blemished history and health concerns. Without those concerns he is a lottery type pick. So if you believe he can turn things around and stay healthy he can have a huge impact on the team. I think he is worth giving the chance,
I also think Holmes is not exactly the typical guy you see get bounced out of the draft. He was predicted to go in the early 2nd round and I haven’t read much as to why he fell off the board.
I’m very happy with the guys the Lakers picked up this year even the guys that are “camp invites” this year are truly something to think about. I really hope to see Upshaw make the team. If he does it would mean he has straightened out and good things down the road. Our other camp invites are also interesting and even if they don’t make the squad this summer may have a future with the Lakers D-League team.
I’m very hopeful that Upshaw turns things around and makes the team. But first he must do the following:
1) Get his house in order and stay clean;
2) Get in shape; he recorded 12.5% body fat before the draft (and then he was diagnosed with heart issues which have since, apparently, been resolved) and he came into summer league in woeful condition; he has to be maniacal about getting and staying in tip-top shape; nothing less will do; and
3) he must play well in pre-season (and in the D League which is where he will probably end up).
If he does these things — ALL of them (2 of 3 won’t get it done) — then he will have given himself a chance.
Todd, I understand your caution. However, Upshaw’s numbers at the University of Washington this last year were actually pretty impressive: (10.9 ppg, 59.3% shooting, 8.2 rpg, 6 double-doubles, and 4.5 blocks in 24.9 minutes per game). He truly had first-round potential (even lottery-pick potential) until he stupidly flamed out.
If he can achieve the above 3 goals, then he will have rescued himself and his budding career from the flames.
The ball is definitely in his court. Let’s at least hope for the best.
Jon King says
IF he stays clean and puts in the work, Roy can teach him the straight up defensive block. They would scare the entire league with their defense. I think in the long run he will also be a better offensive player than Roy Hibbert. Maybe pipe dreams, but I truly believe the potential of this duo (Hibbert and Upshaw) should excite laker fans for years to come.
Laker uruguayo says
And Metta… I love this roster. Upshaw can be more strong and dominant than Okafor. Now, a lot of work and all the patience of the world! Go Lakers!
If this means no more Sacre, I’m all for it.
I too am rooting for him. Nice to see all the genuine support for him. He foremost needs to put on some muscle to be a durable post defender. I’d say about 30 pounds and get stronger. That will put him at 250 lb range. If not NBA centers will go right through him.
I have been waiting for my Lakers front office to wise up and sign Upshaw. The guy has a huge up side. Its like getting another Andrew in there. Remember he was part of those 2 championships.
Go Lakers- can’t wait!
Dario Sibolboro says
It would be a great idea to sign Robert Upshaw now it’s time to prove himself that he’s really belongs to be a Lakers Purple and Gold. I’ll wish him Good Luck to make the 15 Roster
If we can trade Kelly and Sacre for either picks or cash considerations, or both & send Frazier to the D-League we will be better off
I’m really hoping this guy can turn into the project big that we need. If he can get into game shape I’m sure this guy can become at least a contributor ala whiteside. You got this my man
P. Ami says
The downside is Upshaw needs to get better at fundamental defensive techniques. He will be an excellent get if he absorbs what Hibbert does defensively, let alone KAJ or Hakeem. His trajectory is closer to Drummond or Dwight, if everything goes well. That is the upside. Frankly, that is a good thing. Randle is not a rim protector and likely will never be. Upshaw could one day be a defensive anchor. If Randle and one of Clarkson or Russell become stars, that is a nice foundation.
Craig W. says
Rebounds correlate pretty well from college. The only bright spot here for Randle is that he was basicly platooned at Kentucky and wasn’t able to show real dominance. Hopefully, his innate power will translate – Charles Barkely like – into controlling space around the paint and thus to rebounds.
Randle did average a double-double in college, 15 / 10. And, as Craig says, he did that while playing in a platoon system (at the age of 18). Once he gets his legs under him, learns the NBA game, and regains his confidence and timing, it will be interesting to see what he can do.
I’m glad the Lakers took the chance on Upshaw,.. it’s a small risk, for a potential jackpot.
I’m rooting for you Robert, please don’t let us, or yourself down brother !
Love all the positive vibes surrounding Upshaw! I too am hoping he works out. I remember seeing just one game of Washington this past season – it would have been early on because I saw this mountain of a beast named Robert Upshaw and thought “damn this guy is humongous”! Then I heard he got cut, what? It’s great to hear lots of fans are rooting for him. Mope he reads this stuff, but if not…..just get busy! If he can get that body fat to drop to say 8% build his strength so he can dish it out as well as absorb it. He’ll be fine. But agree with Mid-Wilshire’s comments he’s got to do all 3 things to even have a chance.
Also love the anonymous comment about trading, for whatever….whoever Sacre & Kelly. Let’s be honest, nice guys but we’ve gotta cut ‘um. Trade ‘um something. Maybe Dwayne Johnson wouldn’t mind working out with Upshaw….eat better, train harder, play faster and smarter – and utilise the Kareems the Shaq’s – pick their brains. That was one of Bynums faults….too much pride! Could have learned from one of the best Kareem – the all-time leading scorer for goodness sake. Nah, too proud. Here’s hoping Randall can handle and produce…..Clarkson can pop’um and drop’um and let loose….and Russell can hustle add muscle and add the juice. They’ll be fun to watch for sure…..hoping Holmes (better right now over Kelly), Frazier and Brown Brothers are on the squad as well as Black. The vets, Hibbert, Williams and Bass are solid too. Swaggy P not too sure. We’ve got lot of guys only one dimensional….on Offense. Need more D minded players. GO LAKERS…..and maybe seriously look at a coaching change perhaps?
Stephen Tafaro says
Upshaw is a project and is destined for the D League. There he can get playing time and start learning his strengths and weaknesses. Sacre has zero potential. He not a scorer, rebounder and has no defensive skills. His contract is non guaranteed to January 2016. Hope is Upshaw can be promoted by then and Sacre can go play in Europe, China, Afganistan or other tropical venue where he can at least be mediocre.