Estonian basketball star Henri Drell has signed a two-way contract with NBA club Chicago Bulls. Drell, who revealed he also received a good offer to return to Europe in the summer, said his decision to stick with the Bulls' Windy City G League affiliate for the past two seasons has paid off.
On Saturday, prominent NBA journalist Shams Charania reported that the Chicago Bulls had signed a two-way contract with the Estonian forward, citing Matt Bollero, Drell's agent.
For the past two seasons, 23-year-old Drell has been playing for the Bulls' G-League affiliate team Windy City Bulls. This season, the Estonian has played an average of 28 minutes in the 11 games he has featured in, recording an average of 12.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.
"It was quite funny. We had a game the night before and then practice early in the morning. I was pretty tired going in and then coach Henry Domercant called me into his office. I wondered if I had done something. They were really serious and then they said the Bulls would offer me a contract," Drell said in a G-League Sunday broadcast.
The first person the 23-year-old Estonian broke the news to was his mother. "I did the same thing to her, said I had something really crazy to say. She asked me, what I had done now"
The only other Estonian player to have ever made it to the NBA court was Martin Müürsepp, who represented the Miami Heat in 10 games in 1996 – 97. Müürsepp than moved to the Dallas Mavericks, where he made 73 appearances. "That's why I'm doing this, to put my country back on the map. It's a really special feeling and I hope to carry on his legacy," said Drell.
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Drell added that he had been offered a good deal with a team in Europe over the summer. "They asked me why I was going back to the G League. Money is important, but I don't want to end my career in 15 years and say, I could have tried. So I sacrificed the money and gave it a go," said Drell.
The sacrifice certainly seems worth it, as Drell's new two-way deal with the Bulls also comes with a big payday. According to reports, the Estonian stands to earn $559,782 USD this season.
The Chicago Bulls, who famously won six NBA championships during the Michael Jordan era, have won 11 games and lost 17 this season. They currently lie 12th in the Eastern Conference. However, with a rebuild of the roster on the cards, youngsters like Drell should be given the chance to help turn things around.
Editor: Michael Cole