Before their final preseason game, the Lakers made minor waves (well, for some) by waiving undrafted big man Robert Upshaw in favor of keeping Tarik Black and Robert Sacre. Upshaw tantalized with his inherent talent and upside, but ultimately a combination of his checkered past and not showing as much as the coaches or front office would have liked during training camp and the preseason got him waived.
After he was cut, however, head coach Byron Scott mentioned the team was hopeful Upshaw would clear waivers and sign with the D-Fenders. Well, Scott’s hopes have come to fruition.
Center Robert Upshaw cleared waivers and will sign with Lakers' D-League affiliate (LA D-Fenders), league source informs @Clevelanddotcom.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) October 24, 2015
The Lakers do not retain any rights to Upshaw — by waiving him they relinquished any hold they had on him in that regard. However, because he was in camp with them, the team can name him an affiliate player where he can play on the D-Fenders where the Lakers have organizational control and oversight of his development.
While this isn’t what Upshaw would have liked — surely he’d prefer to have a final roster spot — this was always the most likely result of his camp invite. Further, it’s likely the place he would have spent the majority of the season even if he did make the final roster. Based on his play in summer league and during preseason, he simply did not look to be adjusted enough at the pro level to earn any sort of role on the regular roster.
This isn’t to diminish his talent at all. Upshaw clearly has some game and massive potential. But, if we’re really evaluating him on what he did while on the floor, his timing was off defensively and his offense was choppy and sporadic. Getting minutes with the D-Fenders should enable him to get meaningful on court action for the first time since getting dismissed from the University of Washington in February.
As an aside, the fact that Upshaw cleared waivers should serve some notice to those claiming the Lakers made a massive error by waiving him. Teams are clearly hesitant to take a chance on him; his past transgressions have been hard to escape. Proving himself in training camp is one thing, doing so over the course of a season is something teams seem to have serious doubts on. Hopefully, though, Upshaw can prove folks wrong by finding his way. As a person and then, hopefully, as a player too.