Two years ago. When she entered the free agency market, Kang-isul was the centre of attention before the market even opened. Two years later, Kang-isul became a free agent once again, and this time she was still the centre of attention. This time, her choice was to stay, and she signed a new three-year contract with KB Stars.
Free agency again
When Kang-isul became a free agent two years ago, market interest in her was intense. As the league’s best shooter entered the free agency market, teams were scrambling to sign him, and Hana WonQ, Kang-iul’s former club, also expressed a strong desire to get him.
In the face of such fierce competition, Kang-iul chose to take on a new challenge. She left Hana OneQ, where she had been since her debut, and found a new home at KB Stars.
Two years later, she became a free agent once again. And she was still regarded as the biggest name in the game. However, the mood of the market was very different. Kang-iul’s pride had been shattered by her poor performance last season, so many expected her to re-sign with KB in order to restore her shattered pride.
As expected, Kang’s choice was to re-sign. She agreed to a three-year contract with KB for a total of 350 million won ($280 million in salary and $70 million in allowances).메이저사이트
“I think I was a quiet free agent, although everyone was grateful to say that I was a maximalist, and I didn’t have any intention of transferring, so I was happy to sign a good contract amicably with KB,” she said.
“The team didn’t make the playoffs for the first time in 12 years, and I thought I was responsible for that. I felt like I was running away if I transferred, so I wanted to stay here and restore my pride with the team, so I signed the contract without much difficulty.”
According to Kang, there were no other offers for her in this market. There were comments from other clubs that it would be polite to have a chat over a cup of coffee, but the market was definitely different from two years ago.
“There were a lot of rumours, but no real contact, and when I spoke to KB, he would ask me to talk to him openly about things like player frustrations and things that needed to be improved, and I felt that just having that conversation showed that he was thinking about the players.”
“Two years ago, it was a time when I felt like I needed to change myself because I hadn’t been performing well, but this time, I think it was a time when I needed to restore my pride or my honour, because I never thought that I had a bad season to the point where I was beating myself up, but last season, I was so bad that I could count on one hand, and I was so regretful and disappointed, so I think those things were different from two years ago.”
But… What if there had been a strong offer from another team…?
“I was so bad that I thought to myself, ‘Did I make myself too lazy by playing with (Park) Ji-soo for a year, and would I be proud if I went to another team and achieved something on my own?’ But those thoughts quickly disappeared because I was so bad last season, regardless of whether I had Ji-soo or not. If there had been a strong offer, I would have thought about it, but I don’t think my choice would have changed.”
As it turned out, Kang Yi-sul chose to re-sign with KB, and her honour was restored. Shortly after the news of her re-signing, she received a call from head coach Kim Wan-soo asking her to join the team.
“As soon as I signed the contract, the coach called me right away after hearing the news. He asked me when I was going to join the team, because he obviously said I could come in slowly (laughs), so I told him I was going to improve my body outside and come in. He thanked me for re-signing and said, “Let’s do well together again.””
Last season was a shock to everyone
10 wins and 20 losses. That was KB’s report card last season. Everyone was shocked by the unexpected downfall of the defending champions. It was expected that they would struggle to some extent, but no one thought they would be this bad, so we asked them straight up. What was wrong with KB last season?
“It was a lot of frustration, because I felt like something was working, but it wasn’t, I felt like we were going to win, but we weren’t, the shots were going in, but they weren’t, and then the plays that were working weren’t working, so I think the team sagged as a whole, so it was a tough season for everyone, including me.”
While the team was a team, Kang’s individual performance was also disappointing. After averaging 18.0 points and 5.3 rebounds in her first year with KB, she struggled last season, averaging 15.2 points and 6.6 rebounds.
Most importantly, her three-point shooting percentage, her biggest weapon, plummeted to 29.9 per cent, leading to a disappointing season. For reference, Kang’s three-point shooting percentage was only in the 20s in her first two seasons and in 2022-2023.
Kang’s last two seasons
2021-2022 season: 18.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.9 assists. Three-point shooting: 42.9 per cent.
2022-2023 season: 15.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 2.7 assists. Three-point shooting: 29.9 per cent.
“I really don’t know, it was just a season where I was kind of possessed by something, and I was thinking about it every day that the shots weren’t going in and I didn’t know why they weren’t going in, and as a shooter you kind of know when you shoot a shot and it’s going in, but it’s also coming off the rim and it’s really hard mentally, so it was a stressful, hard season.”
“I think I also hurt my ego a lot, which is a cautious thing to say, but we have an unquestioned ace in Jisoo, and it’s not an easy thing to fill that void, but I thought I could do it to a certain extent, and as it turned out, I couldn’t fill that void, and I think that’s why everyone’s opinion of the players on my team dropped. I felt like the 10 years of my career before that were gone.