After Robert Upshaw went undrafted on June 25, the Los Angeles Lakers reached out to the troubled 21-year-old and ultimately were able to add him to the team’s NBA Summer League roster.
Bringing in Upshaw appeared to be a smart move for the Lakers due to a low risk, high reward situation with the promising young center. There’s been talk of the team finalizing a multi-year deal with the rookie, but a contract has yet to be signed.
Recently, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak talked about Upshaw’s status with the team and how he’ll be used in his first season in Los Angeles if ultimately signed, via Lakers.com:
It’s unlikely that Robert will contribute to the team next year to win games. I think you know Robert and how he’s bounced around at the college level. He’s a player that we looked at in Summer League, and we’re continuing to have conversations with his representative. If we did something with Robert, it would be based on potential going forward. … We’ve made commitments to some rookies because they got drafted very high. But to look at a guy that wasn’t drafted and say, “This is a guy that’s gonna be in the rotation.” That’s not realistic at all.
Before Upshaw was dismissed by the University of Washington on Jan. 26, the second college program that parted ways with the center, the seven-footer was putting up some solid numbers for the Huskies.
Upshaw averaged 10.9 points, 8.2 rebounds and 4.5 blocks per game while in Washington and received a lot of recognition as potentially being one of the best centers in the 2015 NBA Draft. Unfortunately, off-the-court issues continued to be a major flaw of Upshaw’s leading to the center falling out of the draft completely with no NBA team willing to take the risk.
Although still a risk, Upshaw is a talented player with a potentially huge upside if able to stay out of trouble once officially playing on the NBA level. Upshaw may not be a rotation player right away for the Lakers, but he’ll be given the chance to prove himself during his rookie campaign even if it mostly with the Los Angeles D-Fenders.