Can Any Team Lure Real Madrid Point Guard Sergio Llull to the NBA?

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Sergio Llull
MADRID, SPAIN - JANUARY 24: Sergio Llull of Real Madrid in action during the 2019/2020 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season Round 21 match between Real Madrid and Anadolu Efes Istanbul at Wizink Center on January 24, 2020 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Sonia Canada/Getty Images)

Sergio Llull is a mega-star in the basketball world, just not in North America. Unless you are a die-hard basketball nerd, you may not have ever heard of Llull, or at least, not since the 2009 NBA Draft. In 2009, Llull was drafted by the Denver Nuggets in the second round as the No. 34 pick. His rights were quickly snapped up by the Houston Rockets, who paid Denver a then-record $2.25 million to acquire the Spanish star second-round pick. The Rockets have a tough slate of games upcoming and will play the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks. NBA fans can use the Bet9ja bonus when wagering on NBA and the team they believe will win when the Rockets take to the court.

Can Any Team Lure Real Madrid Point Guard Sergio Llull to the NBA?

There was one problem with the Rockets’ purchasing the rights to Llull, however. The point guard had no desire to leave Spain and play in the NBA. At least he had no intention to leave in 2009 and 10 years later, it looks like little has changed.

The Rockets have not given up on their mission to sign the now 32-year-old guard. Llull has won nearly everything there is to win in Europe. He is a two-time EuroLeague champion, EuroLeague MVP, six-time Spanish League champion, and Spanish League MVP.

The 6-foot 3-inch guard has everything an NBA team seeks when scouting backcourt players. He has a high-percentage three-point shot and is creative off the dribble. Think of him as a better shooting Steve Nash with nicer hair. Llull could be the best-ever European import to the NBA thanks to his ability to beat defenders one-on-one and his physicality when penetrating the paint. Yet, he may never set foot on an NBA court.

According to an interview with Rockets’ director of global scouting Marko Radovanovic, the basketball team nearly pulled off signing Llull in 2017. The two parties were in serious negotiations and Llull was set to be the team’s starting point guard. In the end, the Real Madrid basketball legend said ‘no’ to the NBA and it is driving the Rockets mad. The combination of Llull, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook could be the best backcourt trio in the NBA. Yet, Houston merely has a duo for now.

Llull’s decision to remain in Spain and play for Real Madrid may be maddening to Houston, but for him, it has fit in with life. The guard has succeeded in Spain and in the EuroLeague. Why should he throw away the success and fame of being a legend in European basketball for the chance of something fleeting in the NBA? Although Llull has been an amazing player in Europe and on the international stage, there is no guarantee his time in the NBA would be a success. The comforts of home keep him from going to the NBA and being eaten up by the basketball machine.

Houston has continually tried to sign Llull and in the 2020 offseason, will most likely try once more. Time could be running out for Llull to have his crack at the Association. He will turn 33 next November and the Rockets could finally end their pursuit.

The ability to make a great living and stay at home could ultimately be the reason Llull doesn’t sign for the Rockets. At one time, the NBA was the only place players could go to make a large salary in basketball. With basketball’s expansion and popularity in Europe, it is likely Llull will stay put and leave the Rockets dreaming of what could have been.

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