Earlier I tried to project what the Lakers’ final 15 man roster would look like. That projection has already been proven wrong as the team announced its first two cuts:
The Los Angeles Lakers have waived guard Michael Frazier II and center Robert Upshaw, it was announced today by General Manager Mitch Kupchak.
Frazier II, an undrafted rookie from Florida, was originally signed by the Lakers on August 25. He appeared in four preseason games for Los Angeles, averaging 2.0 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 0.8 assists in 13.5 minutes per game.
Upshaw saw action in four of the Lakers’ seven preseason contests, averaging 2.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 0.75 blocks in 14.1 minutes per game. The undrafted rookie out of Washington was originally signed on September 14.
Cutting Frazier is not much a surprise, though I might have struggled with it. As I have noted, he has real two-way potential and has enough of a shooting stroke to project into a viable three point shooter with some seasoning. He’s clearly not there yet, though. Releasing him now reflects that. I’m guessing the team is hopeful he’s open to playing for the D-Fenders this upcoming season.
Cutting Upshaw will make more waves than Frazier, but in a way the situation is exactly the same. Upshaw’s potential is one of a rotation player who can impact the game on both ends of the floor. Because he projects to be that player, however, doesn’t mean he is right now. In fact, he’s not close yet.
The tools are there, however. And that makes it it bit more difficult to digest. It’s simply rare you have a player of his size and physical traits available and in-house. Letting him go seems like you’ve throwing away a lottery ticket before finding out what the winning numbers are. The team has seemingly chosen to go with known quantities rather than keep a player on the 15 man roster who offers the unknowns.
I don’t blame them for this, per se. They have access to information I don’t and have seen all the players up close in more situations than the game minutes we have been exposed to. The flip side, however, is that in those game minutes we have seen the glimpses of what he can be. Those glimpses then become projectable skills. An examination of the roster shows those skills lacking and…boom, we have an idea about what should happen.
Like Frazier, the hope is that Upshaw will commit to the D-Fenders where the Lakers can continue to get an up close look and impact his development curve. And while they will not have any official rights to him, having him on their home D-League affiliate would give them an advantage.
In any event, the Lakers’ roster is now down to 17. With at least two more cuts coming, this won’t be the last update we provide.