The Los Angeles Lakers don’t have established talent like most NBA teams. Instead, the Lakers have a nucleus of young talent with players like Julius Randle, D’Angelo Russell, and Jordan Clarkson. The Lakers already have a healthier Kobe Bryant returning, and they added Roy Hibbert, Louis Williams, and Brandon Bass in the offseason.
A surprise move was made on Tuesday afternoon, when the Lakers announced that they waived Robert Upshaw, along with Michael Frazier II. Waiving Frazier wasn’t a big surprise, as the Lakers are loaded with guards. The Lakers already have Clarkson, Russell, Williams, Nick Young, and potentially Jabari Brown. Yes, Frazier is the best shooter of the bunch, but he doesn’t do many other things well.
The Lakers will regret waiving Upshaw for multiple reasons. The Washington product was kicked out of the Huskies for violation of team rules. That was the second time (Fresno State), that Upshaw was kicked out for that cause in his collegiate career. This was the primary reason the talented 7-footer went undrafted. When the Lakers signed him to a non-guaranteed deal in July it appeared that he had a chance to make the team.
As a sophomore with the Huskies he averaged 10.9 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 4.5 blocks in 19 games. Had Upshaw been qualified he would’ve been the national leader in blocks with ease. His defensive impact is immeasurable and that’s what the Lakers lack.
The Lakers could’ve kept him over Robert Sacre. Yes, Sacre is a good chemistry guy and he works hard, but Upshaw is an upgrade even as a rookie. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Upshaw has DeAndre Jordan-like impact in a few years. Upshaw has even shown signs of a midrange jumper throughout the summer.
Keeping Upshaw would’ve been a gamble, but it’s one that a team that isn’t projected to win many games should’ve taken. Hopefully Upshaw doesn’t get signed elsewhere and he joins the Los Angeles D-Fenders.