From the very beginning, I went in with a strand toward retention.”
The Seoul Samsung Thunders have signed guard Lee Dong-yeop to a free agent contract, the KBL announced today. The contract is for three years with a total compensation of 300 million won ($210 million in salary and $90 million in incentives).
The announcement comes on the final day of voluntary negotiations, but Lee and Samsung were close to a deal earlier in the day, with Lee revealing that he was focused on staying with the organization rather than moving on.
Lee is a 6-foot-3 guard who contributes to the team with his solid defense. He usually defends the opposing ace, but his outside shooting has also improved since the beginning of his career.
“The team took good care of me, and we were actually close to an agreement when the free agency market opened. I was only thinking about staying at Samsung, and I’m happy that I was able to sign as I wanted. I was only listening, and then I became a free agent, so there were other things, but I didn’t worry too much because I was only thinking about staying at Samsung even if other teams offered. From the beginning, I decided to stay,” he said.
Lee had a lot of affection for the Samsung team, which has been with him since he joined the pro ranks. That’s why he didn’t hesitate to re-sign. His goal is to repay the fans’ love by contributing to the team’s performance.
“This is the team that picked me and nurtured me, and in my rookie and second year, we made the playoffs and were runners-up, but we didn’t produce good results after that, so I felt very sorry for the fans. I had a feeling that I had to do well in this team,” he said, showing his determination.
One of the reasons he stayed with the team was that coach Eun Hee-seok had mentioned staying when he met with Lee during free agency. Whatever role the coaching staff assigns him, he will do his best to fulfill it. His personal goal was to improve the offense.
“Coach, I met with you a few times during free agency and we talked well. The coach also told me to stay, so that was one of the reasons I stayed. I think I have to fulfill whatever role the manager and coach give me next season. In terms of my personal development, I’ve been criticized for my lack of offense, so I’m going to focus on that in training.”
On the responsibilities of being a high-paid player, he said, “Being a high-paid player means more responsibility. I will try to be more responsible and dedicate myself to the team.”
Lee joined Samsung as the fifth pick in the first round of the 2015 draft. With the departures of Lee Ho-hyun (to KCC) and Jang Kook-guk (retired) in this year’s free agency, he is now the longest-serving player on the team. Lee Kwan-hee, Kim Jun-il, and Lim Dong-seop, who also played with the team, are now playing for other teams 먹튀검증.
“Actually, that’s the most regrettable part,” Lee said, “because the players who were there when I was a rookie, like Kim Jun-il, Lim Dong-seop, Jang Min-gook, Lee Ho-hyun, and Lee Kwan-hee, are no longer there, and I’m the oldest player on the team. Honestly, I’m very disappointed. But it’s inevitable in the professional world, and it’s hard to keep playing with the same players regardless of your performance, whether you leave or your teammates leave. We all see each other a lot, and Ho-hyun and Min-guk promised to support each other in their respective positions. It’s unfortunate, but it’s something that can’t be helped,” he said, expressing regret over the breakup.
Lee Dong-yeop hasn’t experienced a transfer since joining the pro ranks. He spent some time wondering if he was to blame for Samsung’s recent poor performance, but he said he was determined to stay and do his best to help the team win.
“I want to stay with Samsung,” Lee said, “and that’s why I made this choice. Of course, as a player, you want to win, and I haven’t been performing well lately, so it’s not that I didn’t honestly think about that. There was also a certain amount of worry and skepticism about whether I would lose because I was playing. But I don’t think so now, and I’m going to do everything in my power to win for this team and for Samsung.”
Lee had a tough time with a shoulder injury last season. In the off-season, he worked hard to rehabilitate his shoulder to prevent a recurrence.
“My shoulder was not good during the season, so I was a free agent, so I couldn’t travel and focused on rehabilitation. It doesn’t affect my ability to play next season. I started rehabilitation early to avoid getting injured again rather than the immediate injury.”
Finally, Lee Dong-yeop said, “The contract announcement could have been made earlier, but due to team circumstances, it came out on the last day. In the meantime, the fans asked me a lot of questions and wanted me to stay, which gave me a lot of strength. I’m really grateful to all the fans who wanted me to stay. It was a time when I could feel the love of the fans even more,” he said, thanking the Samsung fans.