It was the evening of May 20, at the state of the art gym of Humphreys camp in Seoul. A 6 foot 8 inch Eric Sandrin is working out, motivated to get back on the basketball court after missing an entire season due to a leg injury. Sandrin and his brother Daniel had just come back from a mini-vacation back home in Seattle where they both discussed their current status as KBL free agents.
“We are always looking at the possibility to play together and wondering if it will ever happen but the chances were pretty slim,” says Eric, who became a Korean citizen in 2009.
As Sandrin continued his workout at Humphreys camp, he notices his cellphone receiving numerous calls. What came next was very unexpected. It was the general manager of the SK Knights who offered both him and his a brother a two year contract that will pay them $180,000 USD per season. Sandrin immediately accepted. “The first person I called when I got the news was my brother and he was as shocked as I was,” says Sandrin.
Since receiving the big news, Eric and his brother Daniel have been hitting the gym together in anticipation for a successful season with the Seoul SK Knights.
“Being in Korea, my brother and I have always been on different teams so we haven’t been able to train together. But these past couple of days we’ve been doing some stuff together over at the SK facilities. The team is currently in California but they will be back this week and we are scheduled to get started on Tuesday. So I’m really looking forward to it,” says Sandrin.
The Seoul SK Knights have become the most unique team of the Korean Basketball League. They now have four naturalized Koreans. The two Sandrin brothers will team up with David Michaels, who is currently going through a naturalization process that will see him become a Korean citizen, and the SK Knights big man who played college basketball in Korea Kim Min Soo, a half Korea/half Argentinian.
How did the SK Knights pull this off with a $2.1 million salary cap? Daniel Sandrin took a massive paycut to make this happen. Last season, Daniel Sandrin made $390,000 with the Seoul Samsung Thunders. So now, the salaries of the top 5 Seoul SK Knights players are both Sandrins at $180,000 each, David Michael at $110,000, Kim Min Soo at $290,000, and all-star game MVP point guard Kim Sun Hyung at $350,000. That’s a total of $1,1 million leaving $1 million to fill in the roster. This is genius. Add two foreign players to the mix (who’s contract don’t count on the salary cap) and the SK Knights are automatic early favorites to take home the 2016 KBL championship.
Sure, with high expectations comes a lot of pressure. But Eric Sandrin says if you can’t take the pressure, don’t play the game.
“In every job there is pressure, and if you don’t like the pressure then you shouldn’t do the job. So I mean this is a great opportunity for us. The team is already good without me and my brother. They came really close to winning the championship two years ago and were a couple of games away from first place last year. Hopefully my brother and I can come in there and lift the team to the next level, and that is to win a championship.”
The 2015-2016 KBL season is scheduled to tip-off on September 12th, 2015.