By Stefan Djordjevic/ email@example.com
Most of the best European players eventually get their chance and try out the NBA. For some this opportunity arrives at a young age as is the case for Luka Doncic but for many, it happens later on. Nonetheless, nearly all do it… except for Sergio Llull.
The Spanish guard – who was selected as the best international player outside the NBA in the 2018-2019 GM survey – feels happy and fulfilled right where he is: “It’s home, I came here when I was 19 years old. I was a kid. I grew up here as a player and person. I’m really happy to be here, and this is the place I want to be.”, he explained in a recent interview.
Llull has been on the Rockets‘ radar for a long time although he never decided to make the final step and head overseas. In fact, the Houston Rockets invested the most amount of money ever spent on a second-round draft pick to buy his NBA rights from the Denver Nuggets in 2009.
“We paid $2.5 million for the best player, not in the NBA.”, the Rockets GM Daryl Morey said on an occasion.
It’s been nine years but the Rockets still haven’t given up on him it seems. Morey reacted to a WSJ Sports article – which focused exactly on Llull and his disinterest in the NBA – comparing him to the Lithuanian legend Arvydas Sabonis who became an NBA rookie at 31 years old. Llull is currently 30.
“Will history repeat itself? Arvydas Sabonis, the “best international player” of his generation came to the NBA when he was 31 years old. Sergio Llull will be 31 next season”, the Rockets GM tweeted.
The 2017 EuroLeague MVP has a contract with Real Madrid for three more seasons but the Rockets could still try to bring over the Spaniard with a buyout. If, of course, Llull changes his mind and decides to give NBA a shot.