May 25, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets head coach Kevin McHale speaks to the media after the game against the Golden State Warriors in game four of the Western Conference Finals of the NBA Playoffs. at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Rockets head coach Kevin McHale revealed in an interview not long ago that he’d love to have a Sergio Llull added to his team’s roster this off-season.
Llull (pronounced “Yule”) was drafted by the Denver Nuggets in the 2009 NBA Draft. The 27-year-old Spaniard was drafted in the second round with the 34th overall pick.
The Houston Rockets then bought the rights to Llull’s contract from the Nuggets for $2.25 million, which is the highest purchase total for the rights to a second-round pick, per Ryan Dunsmore of The Dream Shake.
He is currently playing professional basketball overseas in Spain.
Aug 8, 2012; London, United Kingdom; Spain guard Sergio Llull (12) reacts during the men’s quarterfinal against France in the 2012 London Olympic Games at North Greenwich Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The key to the comment McHale made is that he’d like “a Sergio Llull” and not necessarily Llull himself.
McHale could easily be playing the NBA family for fools into thinking the Rockets will avidly pursue signing Llull, all so they can swoop in under the radar and lock another player to a contract.
Daryl Morey, General Manager of the Houston Rockets
Some teams utilize the smokescreen more so than others, but the Rockets organization seems to be in good hands with Daryl Morey at the helm as general manager.
I know personally (being a Raptors fan), fan-bases aren’t always kind-hearted towards the accumulation of foreign talent outside of household names (or guys that haven’t played some form of basketball in America). At the very least, there’s a lot of skepticism.
In Llull’s case specifically, if I’m being skeptical, it’s because I can’t tell whether or not he would let his emotions get the best of him competing in the NBA, or whether those very same emotions would fuel him to compete at a high level.
An example of foreign talent that captured the league by storm would be someone like the late Drazen Petrovic (Rest in peace). As soon as Petrovic got a chance to show what he had following his move from Portland to New Jersey, he proved foreign players could certainly be dominant in the NBA.
It’s easier to argue their legitimacy and place in the NBA today, but back in the day, foreign players had it far worse.
To Llull I can only say this: if you decide to come to the NBA, be open-minded and humble. Everyone is going to want to tell you how to play, but at the end of the day, as long as you act like a sponge, you’ll likely gain something positive from it.
Even if it doesn’t translate into a prosperous NBA career, it could at the very least give you some valuable experience to bring overseas to a club team or to your national team.
I’ll leave you with a quick scouting report on Llull, both from the NBA family and yours truly.
My Two Cents
- Llull is a quick athlete with a scorer’s mentality.
- His playing style reminds me of Steve Nash. I’m not saying he could be the next Nash. I’m simply comparing playing style (up-tempo, confident, not afraid of taking big shots, slithers through defenses using handles or using pick-and-roll). He obviously doesn’t have the uncanny court-vision or passing skills like Nash, nor does he have two MVP awards, but he could certainly make a splash in the NBA.
- After mentioning Petrovic, I suppose I should mention Llull also brings a ton of energy and flare to the game.
- The coach likes him and sees something in him. The franchise obviously saw something in him when they paid for his rights in 2009. It’s simply a matter of whether or not the team and player can agree to terms.
Here’s a quick scouting report from people in the NBA.
Pau Gasol on Llull’s game
And here’s some video analysis by Sam Hinkie, former Rockets VP of Basketball Operations (now General Manager and President of Basketball Operations of the Philadelphia 76ers), who gave his scouting report on Llull’s game to the tee.
For more on Llull, see this Bleacher Report article that breaks down everything from the financial take, to the realistic chances of it happening.
Share your thoughts on the 2009 draft pick below.