Sergio Llull was selected with the 34th overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets, who traded his rights to Houston for cash considerations.
Llull has played in Spain ever since, but that investment the rockets made in him may be ready to pay off in time for next season.
From Marc Stein of ESPN.com:
Llull is a combo guard who loves to score first but can do much more when he’s on the ball these days for Real Madrid than he did back then for the national team, which for the past several years could always turn to the likes of Jose Calderon, Juan Carlos Navarro and Ricky Rubio for quarterbacking. Llull’s role is much bigger with the Spanish club giants in Madrid, who have him under contract through 2018 and to whom Llull (pronounced YOU’LL) has always proclaimed the deepest of affections.
His NBA rights, however, belong to the Houston Rockets, who have been trying for years to convince Llull to make the jump. And there is some fresh talk that next season — finally — Llull will give strong consideration to joining the Gasol brothers and the rest of the Spanish armadaplaying Stateside.
One well-placed source told me in Spain: There’s a “pretty decent” chance Llull agrees to sample the NBA next season.
The scouting report in Stein’s piece talks up Llull’s ability to succeed as the ball-handler in pick-and-roll situations, as well as hit timely shots — like this one, from back in 2014 (which is hilarious, if only for the announcer’s reaction).
There obviously wouldn’t be a need for him to play heavy minutes behind the ball-dominant James Harden, but as we’ve seen with Chicago and Nikola Mirotic this season, having an older, more experienced player come over from Europe can sometimes pay huge dividends.
Houston will hope for a similar return, should the 27-year-old Llull ultimately make that NBA decision.