SEPTEMBER 14TH, 1:04pm: The deal is finally official, the team announced. Personal issues to which Upshaw was tending had cast uncertainty on whether he would join the team, though the Lakers had left the door open for him to do so, as Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders recently reported. The team wanted him to accomplish “some offseason off-court goals” related to those personal matters, and today’s announcement is evidence that he’s done so, Pincus tweets.
The Lakers have deals with 18 players, including Upshaw, as our roster count shows. Only 12 of those deals are fully guaranteed, giving Upshaw a decent chance at a regular season roster spot.
JULY 15TH, 12:24pm: Upshaw and Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak will meet Thursday, presumably to hash out details, though the general framework the sides have in place calls for a minimum-salary arrangement, as Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News details.
JULY 11TH, 8:31am: The Lakers have reached an agreement with center Robert Upshaw on a free agent contract, Chris Haynes of The Northeast Ohio Media Group reports (on Twitter). The pact is for two years and includes a partial guarantee for the first season, Baxter Holmes of ESPNLosAngeles.com relays (Twitter link). There is no guaranteed salary for the 2016/17 campaign.
Upshaw went undrafted this year despite possessing lottery-level talent, and he could end up being a steal for the Lakers. He’s certainly a project, but if Los Angeles is able to develop the seven-footer’s potential, Upshaw could provide the team with a solid inside presence for seasons to come. Of course, there is a reason Upshaw went undrafted and was dismissed from both Fresno State as well as the University of Washington. The player has a history of substance abuse that he readily acknowledges, and is struggling to break free of.
The big man spoke with Ricky O’Donnell of SBNation about his well-documented issues, saying, “It’s been a long process. I’ve had a lot of education around drugs and alcohol. A lot of things I’ve been through, I haven’t kept them a secret. I’ve just been working on myself with a team of people that are close to me to have structure and success at the next level.” Upshaw also noted that he’s running out of chances, and that he intends to make the most out of any shot he gets in the NBA, O’Donnell adds. “I realized that I’m 21 years old, I got a family to feed and food is not going to put itself on the table,” said Upshaw. “I have one more opportunity to accomplish my goals and be able to take care of my family. I have one chance and I’m gonna sacrifice and do anything possible.”
In 19 appearances for the Huskies last season Upshaw averaged 10.9 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 4.5 blocks in 24.9 minutes per contest. His slash line was .593/.000/.434.