Some expected Robert Upshaw to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers after playing for their NBA Summer League outfit, but the two sides made it official Monday, per the team's official website, as the undrafted free agent signed a "multi-year" contract with the Lakers.
Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. In all likelihood, the deal will carry minimal (if any) guarantees beyond the 2015-16 season. Only first-round draft picks are given guaranteed contracts in the NBA, and given Upshaw's history of off-the-court issues, the Lakers probably want to minimize the risk as much as possible.
Upshaw averaged 10.9 points, 8.2 rebounds and an NCAA-high 4.5 blocks last season at Washington before being dismissed by the program for a violation of team rules. It was the second time he had been dismissed from a college program, having left Fresno State after his freshman season amid controversy. Upshaw entered the 2015 NBA draft after his departure from Washington but went undrafted despite his prodigious physical gifts.
“I matured and learned things about life,” Upshaw told Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News in July. “I learned things about authority, how to listen instead of talk, how not to have excuses and always have the answer. That’s what it was for me. I learned that and learned it quick.”
Upshaw was the third-tallest player of the 2015 class measured at the combine and had the largest standing reach and wingspan; however, he also had a disappointing 12.5 percent body fat and medical testing revealed he had a heart issue. Those physical factors and Upshaw's collegiate issues caused him to drop off many teams' boards.
The Lakers subsequently picked him up for the summer league, where he averaged 1.4 points, 2.2 rebounds and 0.8 blocks in 11.5 minutes per game. Their center depth chart currently consists of Roy Hibbert, Robert Sacre and Tarik Black, so it's unlikely Upshaw will get much playing time early in the season. Odds are he will spend time in the NBA D-League, which shouldn't alter his development since the D-Fenders are based in Los Angeles.
Still, with Hibbert around to help teach Upshaw the ins and outs of verticality, this could be a smart long-term fit. The Lakers' roster currently stands at 19 players, one short of the 20-player maximum for training camp.
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