Undrafted center and Los Angeles Lakers training camp invitee Robert Upshaw has signed with the Los Angeles D-Fenders, according to a report from Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com. The D-Fenders are the Lakers' D-League affiliate, and held Upshaw's D-League rights because Upshaw cleared waivers after being cut from the Lakers' roster earlier this week.
Upshaw was a hyped addition to the Lakers' summer league roster after going undrafted in the 2015 NBA Draft. Upshaw was origninally considered by some to be lottery pick and almost universally as a certainty to be drafted, but a combination off the court concerns due to his being released by two NCAA programs as well as a heart issue that was flagged during pre-draft medical evaluations, but later reported to be benign kept his name from being called.
Upshaw failed to impress in Vegas, and was noticeably out of shape after spending months without playing competitive basketball. After reportedly dropping 20 pounds in an effort to earn a spot on the Lakers' roster during training camp, Upshaw alternated highlight plays with the mistakes one would expect from an undrafted rookie during his limited floor time in the preseason. However, according to Mike Bresnahan of the L.A. Times, Upshaw "had trouble picking up the offense" and "often left the training facility after practice without putting in extra work," which were enough to lead the Lakers to keep a known quantity in Robert Sacre over the less predictable rookie.
While Upshaw did not do enough in the Lakers eyes to warrant making the roster, now he will get more floor time than he would on the Lakers as he develops right in the team's backyard. Without a guaranteed NBA deal, however, any NBA team can sign Upshaw from the D-Fenders, a scenario our own Ryan Kelapire outlined could leave the Lakers regretting this cut.