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Windy City Bulls coach Charlie Henry excited by new Select Contracts

The G League announced last week it would begin offering “select contracts” next summer to top 18-year-old players who aren’t yet eligible for the draft, paying players $125,000 to skip college and play in the NBA’s developmental circuit.

In a statement, the G League said the new contracts are “designed for year-round professional growth and will include opportunities for basketball development, life-skills mentorship and academic scholarship.”

Windy City Bulls coach Charlie Henry likes what he’s hearing about the new initiative and thinks it can help players develop their games before jumping to the NBA.

“I think it’s exciting. I think it’s another good measure by the G League,” Henry said. “It’s one of those things where I think we’re going to learn as we go, but we’re definitely giving high schoolers [and] recently graduated players, the ones that obviously qualify for it, incentive to come learn the professional game in the G League, which we feel we can really help them with.”

Windy City Bulls coach Charlie Henry says Select Contracts are an exciting development for the G League. | John L. Alexander/Windy City Bulls

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Since the announcement of the plan, reaction has been mixed. While the idea of players openly earning compensation is appealing, questions have been raised about whether they’d want to forego the exposure major college basketball offers. The logistics of integrating a highly paid draft prospect with a team of G Leaguers also could be challenging because teams such as Windy City are geared not just to win but to groom players for their parent club.

With the program still almost a year away, Henry said he hasn’t spent much time thinking about its logistics. But he’s confident it will work out and pointed to how the league instituted two-way contracts before last season.

“The G League does such a good job about educating us, so I’m sure there will be an education process for all of us that are involved with the G League as we head towards next season,” Henry said. “But it’s exciting to me. I don’t think it changes the day-to-day of things like people might expect. We already have two-way guys. The two-ways, as far as the way things run, was a welcome addition, and I feel like this will be much in the same vein.”

Regardless of opinions on the select contracts, the initiative is another sign of the G League’s growth. On Wednesday, the Pelicans announced they were buying a franchise that will begin play next year, bringing the G League to 28 teams for the 2019-20 season.

“For us that are involved with [the G League] as close as we are, I think [the growth] is something we’re all proud of,” Henry said.