There were reports that the Lakers and Robert Upshaw had reached a training camp deal way back in July during Summer League — but that turned out to be premature, the contract has never been formally offered. The Lakers put the undrafted Upshaw — an imposing, physical, shot-blocking seven-foot center who was dropped from two college programs — on their Summer League team. He looked like a project Las Vegas, one who may be years from being a rotation player, but one with some promise (he set good screens, for example). He’s the kind of player that teams bring to training camp so they can get a closer look.
But will Upshaw be at Lakers’ training camp?
Upshaw seems to think so. After a Seattle Pro-Am game Upshaw spoke with Scout.com about it — as found by our friend Darius Soriano at Forum Blue and Gold — and said he expects to be at Lakers’ training camp if he does the things he needs to do.
Eric Pincus of the LA Times tweeted something similar.
It’s unlikely Upshaw makes the Lakers’ roster. They will start Roy Hibbert at center and bring Robert Sacre in off the bench, plus they are pretty stacked at the four spot with Julius Randle, Brandon Bass, Tarik Black and Larry Nance Jr. Difficult to imagine Upshaw in that mix right now. This may be something where the Lakers would love to get him on their D-League team and have him work on his conditioning, his offense and game skills, plus show he’s got his life in order.
But first he’s got to get his life on track, and then get to training camp.
Since DeAndre Jordan slipped through their fingers this summer, the Mavericks have been in search of a center. They’ve picked up a couple of serviceable backups, the likes of Samuel Dalembert and Zaza Pachulia, but neither of those are long-term solutions. They’ve been linked to JaVale McGee, last seen with the Sixers when not promoting his #JugLife movement on Instagram. Now, they apparently have competition for his services, reports Basketball Insiders’ Alex Kennedy:
McGee has dealt with leg problems for much of the last two seasons, so in order to get consistent minutes on either of these teams, he would have to prove he can stay healthy. He probably has a better chance at cracking the rotation for the Mavs than the Lakers, who traded for Roy Hibbert and have a handful of talented young bigs including Julius Randle, Tarik Black and (potentially) Robert Upshaw. Dallas is much thinner up front with proven talent. If McGee can stay healthy and stay engaged (two very big if’s), he’s the better fit there.
The bottom of the Lakers’ roster is shaping up to be interesting. They have 12 guaranteed contracts and three spots open, and so far they’ve been stacking intriguing prospects. They had talented but troubled center Robert Upshaw at Summer League, and now they’ve signed undrafted University of Texas big man Jonathan Holmes, according to RealGM’s Shams Charania:
Before the draft, Holmes was DraftExpress’ 24th-rated prospect, appearing alongside players who ended up being first-round picks, including Justin Anderson and R.J. Hunter. He played on the Celtics’ Summer League team and drew rave reviews, including this from ESPNBoston.com’s Chris Forsberg:
Steady but quiet during Boston’s three-game stint in Utah last week, Holmes seems to have found his groove in Vegas. He posted 15 points and seven rebounds during Saturday’s win over the Portland Trail Blazers in the Celtics’ Vegas opener.
On Sunday, he showcased his range, connecting on a trio of 3-point attempts while finishing 5-of-10 shooting overall from the floor. Holmes added a block and an assist and was plus-9 in plus/minus.
It’s unlikely that any of these guys will get real minutes for the Lakers if they make the team, but second-round pick Jordan Clarkson was a pleasant surprise last year, and there’s nothing to say Holmes can’t also make an impact if he makes the roster.
The best big man still truly available on the free agent market? (Tristan Thompson isn’t truly available to anybody but Cleveland.)
He’s a respectable NBA backup center who thought he could find a starting role but learned the hard way that’s not happening. Last season with the Wizards he averaged 15 minutes a night, scored 6.6 points on 51.3 percent shooting, grabbed 3.3 boards and was reliable. He doesn’t have much shooting range, and in the past there have been issues with fouls and turnovers. Still, he can give a team quality minutes.
He’s likely going to do that next season somewhere on a short, veteran minimum kind of deal. Michael Scotto of Sheridan Hoops lists the most recent possibilities.
The Mavericks, Suns, and Spurs have in the past expressed some interest.
The smart money has him landing in Washington, where he would play behind Marcin Gortat in the rotation again.
The Knicks and Lakers don’t make a lot of sense. The Knicks have Robin Lopez and Kyle O’Quinn, so there are not minutes to be had. The Lakers have Roy Hibbert and Robert Sacre under contract, plus they are bringing in rookie Robert Upshaw and to see if he can make the roster.
Unfortunately for Seraphin, the music has stopped and he doesn’t have a chair. Or leverage. Or many options. Someone will grab him before the season starts, but he’s going to have to show an improved game to get more run (then eventually, more money).