Robert Upshaw

And-Ones: Colangelo, Upshaw, Westbrook

Better times are ahead for the Sixers in the near future, executive Jerry Colangelo told fans in a video that appears on the team’s official website (transcription courtesy of Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer). “We have a bright, bright future,” Colangelo said. “We’re watching young players develop. We’re anticipating a lot of good things to happen in the very near future. If the stars are aligned and you have a little bit of luck, we could turn this thing around much faster, much quicker than people seem to believe it’s going to take.

When this opportunity presented itself, I saw it as a challenge,” Colangelo continued. “I saw it as someone who believed that I had something to offer the organization in the way of credibility, in the way of experience. And I believe this is a situation that is a lot closer than people think. If you treat people well, you give people room and the ability to make decisions, and you create a team effort — and it starts at the top, and it permeates throughout an organization — I think that’s really the way you build a franchise. I have a personal request. I am saying to you: Don’t give it up. There’s one way to go, and that’s up, and it’s going to be fun building it.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Russell Westbrook‘s stellar play and increased willingness to share the basketball this season could be the Thunder‘s best recruiting tool when the team attempts to re-sign unrestricted free agent Kevin Durant this offseason, Sam Amick of USA Today opines. Westbrook is currently second in the league in assists (10.4 per game) and has fed Durant on 67.4% of his made field goal attempts, which is a marked increase from previous campaigns, Amick adds.
  • Lakers affiliate player Robert Upshaw, who was tossed from the D-league earlier this month for violating its anti-drug program, has parted ways with BDA Sports Management and agent Bill Duffy and hired Hazan Sports Management to represent him, Chris Reichert of Upside & Motor tweets.
  • The Hawks have assigned Lamar Patterson to the NBA D-League, the team announced. Patterson will report to the Austin Spurs as part of the league’s flexible assignment rule since Atlanta does not have its own affiliate.

D-League Boots Robert Upshaw For Drug Violation

The D-League has tossed Lakers affiliate player Robert Upshaw from the league for violating its anti-drug program, according to Chris Reichert of Upside & Motor (Twitter link). The big man was a highly touted college prospect, but his checkered past caused NBA teams to pass on him in last year’s draft. He was with the Lakers for the preseason and joined their D-League team shortly thereafter. It’s unclear what the terms of Upshaw’s punishment are, with the D-League saying merely that his playing services had been terminated for the drug violation.

Upshaw, 22, didn’t see the court much in the D-League this season, as he averaged only 15.6 minutes per game over 28 appearances, but he was impressive on the boards, snagging 4.5 per outing in that limited playing time. The 7-footer remains a work in progress on the offensive end, averaging 7.3 points to accompany a slash line of .477/.200/.610.

The center failed to impress the Lakers during the preseason, nabbing just 3.0 rebounds while scoring 2.5 points in 14.1 minutes per contest in four appearances this past fall. Upshaw pocketed a $35K partial guarantee from that contract, one that took several weeks to finalize. The team had set “offseason off-court goals” for him to meet before officially signing him, according to Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times.

Pacific Notes: Karl, Divac, Upshaw, Kerr

DeMarcus Cousins spoke Monday night of the Kings holding a players-only meeting, but the confab, which took place today, also apparently included coaches and front office chief Vlade Divac, who termed it a productive affair, observes Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee (Twitter links). Caron Butler said the team is behind coach George Karl, tweets Sean Cunningham of KXTV-TV.

“We addressed some issues and the most important thing is we are on the same page,” Divac said, according to Jones.

While we wait to see if the meeting helps Sacramento end a six-game losing streak or simply leads to more drama, see more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Lakers worked out Kristaps Porzingis but ultimately passed on him with the No. 2 pick, though coach Byron Scott didn’t expect him to be as productive as he has been so soon for the Knicks, who drafted him fourth, notes Marc Berman of the New York Post“From what we saw, he was able to shoot it from 3-point range pretty easily,” Scott said. “He’s a young kid that in the workouts we had, really didn’t show any fear. Just thought it was going to take him some time [to develop]. Obviously, we were probably a little wrong about that because he’s playing pretty well right now.”
  • Robert Upshaw said he knew from the start of his deal to join the Lakers that the team would waive him, as the Lakers ultimately did before opening night, but he’s confident he’ll receive another NBA contract this season and isn’t considering a jump overseas, as he told Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter links). The undrafted big man is with the Lakers D-League team as an affiliate player.
  • Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group tosses out some predictions for the rest of the Warriors season, suggesting that if coach Steve Kerr doesn’t make it back by around March 1st, it would be tough to envision him jumping back in so close to the postseason. Still, Kawakami speculates that such a lengthy absence is unlikely.

NBA Teams Designate Affiliate Players

NBA teams cut as much as 25% of their rosters at the end of the preseason, but franchises that have D-League affiliates have a way to maintain ties to many of the players they release from the NBA roster. An NBA team can claim the D-League rights to up to four of the players it waives, as long as the players clear waivers, consent to join the D-League, and don’t already have their D-League rights owned by another team. These are known as affiliate players, as our Hoops Rumors Glossary entry details.

NBA teams allocated 46 affiliate players to the D-League at the beginning of the season last year, and this year, that number has risen to 56, according to the list the D-League announced today. These players are going directly to the D-League affiliate of the NBA team that cut them and weren’t eligible for the D-League draft that took place Saturday. Teams that designated fewer than the maximum four affiliate players retain the ability to snag the D-League rights of players they waive during the regular season, but for now, this is the complete list:

Boston Celtics (Maine Red Claws)

Cleveland Cavaliers (Canton Charge)

Dallas Mavericks (Texas Legends)

Detroit Pistons (Grand Rapids Drive)

Golden State Warriors (Santa Cruz Warriors)

Houston Rockets (Rio Grande Valley Vipers)

Indiana Pacers (Fort Wayne Mad Ants)

Los Angeles Lakers (Los Angeles D-Fenders)

Memphis Grizzlies (Iowa Energy)

Miami Heat (Sioux Falls Skyforce)

New York Knicks (Westchester Knicks)

Oklahoma City Thunder (Oklahoma City Blue)

Orlando Magic (Erie BayHawks)

Philadelphia 76ers (Delaware 87ers)

Phoenix Suns (Bakersfield Jam)

Sacramento Kings (Reno Bighorns)

San Antonio Spurs (Austin Spurs)

Toronto Raptors (Raptors 905)

Utah Jazz (Idaho Stampede)

Also, several players who were on NBA preseason rosters are on D-League rosters through means other than the affiliate player rule. Most of them played under D-League contracts at some point within the last two years, meaning their D-League teams have returning player rights to them. Others entered through last weekend’s D-League draft, while others saw their D-League rights conveyed via trade. Most of these players aren’t with the D-League affiliate of the NBA team they were with last month, with a few exceptions.

Roster information from Adam Johnson of D-League Digest, Chris Reichert of Upside & Motor and freelancer and Hoops Rumors contributor Mark Porcaro was used in the creation of this post.

Pacific Notes: Karl, Lakers, Upshaw, Frazier

Kings minority owners would be reluctant to pay the salary of yet another fired coach, Grantland’s Zach Lowe hears, suggesting George Karl‘s job is safe. The minority owners have talked about their frustrations over Ranadive’s management of the team, though they don’t have the power to usurp his decision-making unless Ranadive sells, Lowe adds.

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Robert Upshaw has cleared waivers and will sign with the Los Angeles D-Fenders, the D-League affiliate of the Lakers, Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group reports (Twitter link). The Lakers waived Upshaw earlier this week.
  • Eric Pincus of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link) hears that Michael Frazier will be signing with the Lakers‘ D-League affiliate as well.
  • The Lakers currently have 16 players under contract, as our Roster Count page shows, and Metta World Peace is one of four players on a non-guaranteed deal. The team is embracing the 35-year-old’s presence and his role as a mentor may help him to make the opening night roster,  Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News writes. “We’re a better team with Metta,” said Julius Randle, who praised World Peace for teaching him about offensive and defensive rotations, footwork, mental preparation and playing off the ball. “It’s not our decision if he’s on the team or not. But Metta’s knowledge and wisdom that he brings to this team is amazing. It’s fun playing with him.”

Eddie Scarito contributed to this post

Lakers Notes: Buss, Upshaw, Frazier, Roster

Lakers executive vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss admits his pitches to free agents in recent years have lacked oomph because he couldn’t promise them immediate success, but he’s confident he has the core in place now to change that, as he explains to Sam Amick of USA Today. Buss is particularly high on No. 2 pick D’Angelo Russell, Amick notes.

“I think we’ve done a great job [rebuilding],” Buss said. “Yeah, I think we’re in dynamite position. Not good position – dynamite. I think we’ve turned the corner. I don’t know if you discount that terminology, ‘turn the corner.’ But when you’re headed down the wrong road, and you can finally get off that road and turn the corner, that’s huge in my opinion.”

Buss set a timeline for turning the Lakers around that his sister Jeanie, the team’s primary owner, interprets as a mandate to get to the Western Conference Finals by 2017, and he believes the team is ahead of schedule and just needs to land a major free agent this summer, as Amick details. See more on Buss and the Lakers:

  • Warriors consultant Jerry West thinks the criticism of Buss is off-base, as he tells Amick for the same story. “He’s really smart … but he’s the easiest target there is,” West said of Buss. “And I will tell you, it’s grossly unfair sometimes. Grossly unfair. It’s almost like they want him to be a reincarnation of his dad, but he can’t.”
  • Issues surrounding Robert Upshaw “that go beyond talent” proved too worrisome for the Lakers, who waived the big man today, tweets Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times, though whatever the issues are, they aren’t outrageous, Pincus cautions. Coach Byron Scott cited a “big-time learning curve on both ends” for Upshaw, according to Times colleague Mike Bresnahan (Twitter link). In any case, Scott said the Lakers hope Upshaw and Michael Frazier, whom they also cut today, clear waivers and sign with the team’s D-League affiliate, notes Bill Oram of the Orange County Register (on Twitter).
  • Both Bresnahan and Oram speculate that Metta World Peace and Jabari Brown are on the bubble for the last regular season roster spot on the Lakers, with Bresnahan suggesting that World Peace has a slight lead (Twitter links).

Lakers Waive Robert Upshaw, Michael Frazier

The Lakers have waived Robert Upshaw and Michael Frazier to drop their roster to 17 players, the team announced. Upshaw, a troubled but intriguing prospect, has a $35K partial guarantee while Frazier is assured of $50K. The Lakers will be responsible for those amounts if they clear waivers. The team still has 12 fully guaranteed contracts plus five more without full guarantees, so more decisions await before the team has to cut down to 15 players for opening night.

It appeared Upshaw would sign with the Lakers much sooner than he did this past offseason as he continued to deal with personal matters. Both Fresno State and Washington dismissed the now 21-year-old center as he dealt with substance abuse issues, and he went undrafted this past June in spite of talent that would suggest he would have merited a pick. He struggled on offense, as Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times points out (Twitter link), averaging just 2.5 points in 14.1 points per game across four preseason appearances, laying to rest speculation that he would beat out Robert Sacre, who has a fully guaranteed salary, for a regular season roster spot.

Frazier, 21, also struggled to score in his four preseason games, posting 2.0 PPG in 13.4 MPG. The shooting guard went undrafted out of Florida this year, though he was the 55th-best prospect, according to Chad Ford of

Tarik Black, Jabari Brown, Marcelo Huertas and Metta World Peace are still with the Lakers on non-guaranteed deals, while Jonathan Holmes has a partial guarantee worth $100K. Holmes dislocated his right shoulder during Monday’s game, and he’ll be immobilized for the next couple of weeks, according to Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times. The partial guarantee covers about a month’s worth of games, but if he’s still unable to play after that, the Lakers will have to shell out more of his salary until he’s able to play, regardless of whether they waive him, as Pincus explains.

Who do you think the Lakers should keep for opening night? Leave a comment to let us know.

Pacific Notes: Upshaw, Warren, Williams

Lakers rookie center Robert Upshaw saw his first NBA preseason action during the team’s 105-97 loss to the Raptors on Thursday, and the young big man contributed six points, three rebounds, two blocks, one assist and one turnover in 25 minutes. When asked to assess Upshaw’s first showing for the team, coach Byron Scott said, “He was OK. He made a ton of mistakes on both ends of the floor. That’s probably to be expected in his first game,Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News relays.

Scott was pleased with how Upshaw is physically rounding into shape, as well as the athleticism Upshaw displayed during Thursday’s contest, Medina adds. “That’s something we didn’t see in summer league,” Scott said. “In summer league, he was much heavier than he is right now. He’s in much better condition right now. He’s much lighter getting up and down the floor. He’s getting off his feet much better. We’re able to see some of the things we kept hearing about.

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said that T.J. Warren‘s overall game has improved since last season, and it may make his decision regarding the team’s regular season starter at small forward difficult, writes Matt Petersen of “When we can get him the ball and get him opportunities, he makes the plays,” Hornacek said. “Defensively, he’s much better than he was last year. I like what he’s doing defensively on guys. He’s taking challenges. He’s got a great knack.P.J. Tucker is Phoenix’s incumbent starter at the three.
  • Despite winning the 2014/15 Sixth Man of the Year award, the Raptors didn’t make an effort to re-sign Lou Williams this offseason, but according to Raptors coach Dwane Casey, “It wasn’t for the fact that we didn’t like Lou or want Lou,” Bill Oram of The Orange County Register tweets.
  • Williams, who signed a three-year, $21MM deal with the Lakers back in July, was allowed to depart because Toronto had more pressing roster concerns, and not because the Raptors didn’t think he was a valuable player, Oram writes in a full-length piece. “He has a huge value,” Casey said of Williams, “but it depends on the other needs that you have on the team. He won a lot of games last year for us with his scoring. We had nights where we had nothing going, and he would come in and change the game with his scoring. And there’s a value. There’s a huge value to that.”

Pacific Notes: Johnson, Morris, Barnes, Collison

Wesley Johnson grew tired of the individualism on the Lakers last season and sought a change this summer, as Janis Carr of the Orange County Register details. Johnson signed with the Clippers, citing the persistence of the front office that took a similar tack in its pursuit of Josh Smith, and the swingman praised the clear set of expectations that Doc Rivers has laid out for him, contrasting it to what he thought was a disjointed Lakers offense, Carr observes.

“You would go out there and want to play the right way, but everyone wanted to prove themselves,” Johnson said, according to Carr. “So nobody really knew what was going on. Nobody ever knew, so it was hard for anyone to come in and get into a good rhythm or flow. Nobody was playing together.”

See more from the Pacific Division:

Lakers Rumors: Upshaw, Huertas, World Peace

Robert Upshaw is unlikely to make the Lakers’ opening-night roster, according to Bill Oram of the Orange County Register. The signing of the center on Monday increases the Lakers’ training camp roster to 18 players, though only 12 have fully guaranteed deals. Marcelo Huertas should make the cut, since the Brazilian shooting guard did not sign with the Lakers to play in the D-League or get released, Oram continues. Huertas, who played for FC Barcelona the past four seasons, inked a one-year deal with the team earlier this month. Metta World Peace would be the 15th man on the roster if he’s signed by the club, Oram adds (All Twitter links). There’s a good chance that the veteran small forward, who has been working out at the team’s practice facility, will come to an agreement with the club before camp.

In other news regarding the Lakers:

  • Upshaw received a $35K guarantee on his two-year minimum contract, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets. His $525,093 salary this season would be fully guaranteed if he’s still on the roster January 10th. His second-year salary of $874,636 does not include any guarantees, Pincus adds. The 21-year-old Upshaw averaged 1.4 points and 2.2 rebounds with the Lakers’ summer league squad in Las Vegas.
  • The additions of Roy Hibbert, Lou Williams and Brandon Bass are not conducive to the Lakers’ effort to rebuild because they’ll take minutes away from younger players, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders opines in the website’s preview of the team. After failing to sign a high-profile free agent, the Lakers added those veterans to save face and give the appearance they want to compete this year, in part to appease Kobe Bryant, Kennedy adds. In the same piece, Basketball Insiders’ Eric Saar takes a somewhat more optimistic view, concluding that the growing core of young players gives the franchise a brighter future than it’s had in recent years.