The NBA Finals are in full swing and the Houston Rockets are unfortunately not the participants.
They’re gearing up for the NBA Draft later this month and the NBA Free Agency that will open up next month.
There’s a lot of work to be done in terms of shaping this roster for the 2015-16 season and it starts now.
My hopes are pinned on bringing back the majority of this roster with a few tweaks that are made such as the point guard position.
Speaking of guards, it’s close to a certainty that the Rockets will be without one guard they’ve been seriously coveting for quite some time.
That would be one Sergio Llull.
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Kevin McHale has expressed a willingness and a desire to sign the guard as he spoke with SportsTalk 790’s Charlie Pallilo this past Monday.
McHale mentions that he’s a guard on his radar that he “would love to bring over” and said that “signing a Sergio Llull would be huge.”
It was rumored that the Rockets were going to offer Llull a three-year, $17 million deal but Rockets’ general manager Daryl Morey shot that down this past March simply implying that it was “not true.”
The Rockets have owned his rights since 2009 when they purchased them from the Denver Nuggets for $2.25 million.
“I’m flattered that there’s talk about me, but I’m happy in Madrid and I have a multi-year contract.” — Sergio Llull
That’s quite an expense considering that he was a second-round pick (34th overall) so it’s quite understandable that the Rockets wish to get a return for their initial investment.
The Rockets do some flexibility with their cap but with Corey Brewer, Josh Smith and Patrick Beverley being free agents in addition to Kostas Papanikolaou having a $4.6 million team option it remains to be seen if the club would work in the use of their mid-level exception to order to clear room and make a coup of the European star.
Llull, currently under contract with the Euroleague’s Real Madrid through 2019, seems content on his current position on the other side of the world.
"“I’m flattered that there’s talk about me, but I’m happy in Madrid and I have a multi-year contract,”Llull told Piratas del Basket, a Spanish hoops media hub this past Thursday."
But, of course, there’s ways around that — if the Rockets really wanted to go get him, they can always execute a buyout similar to what they did with Papanikolaou last season when they were able to scoop him up from Barcelona of the Euroleague.
Space City Scoop
Llull may not be all that enthused about being a Rocket because he’d likely be in a backup role which is more of a demotion in comparison to the role he plays now overseas.
Llull, highly-touted for his keen abilities to effectively run the pick-and-roll offense and his consistent desire to do so with precision would be a nice fit with the Rockets if they were still somehow able to pull off a deal.
He’s versatile — he can play the point or slide over the “2” guard spot, giving him even more value.
His defense is still something that has to be develop as he sometimes lacks the strength to fight through picks himself but is quick enough to stay in front of his defender and can ball-hawk at times.
Nonetheless, it’d be a thrill to have in a Rockets uniform and it may happen sooner than we think but it will likely not happen this year because of the Rockets’ cap situation.
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But you never know, Morey is a magician when it comes to these things!
Llull, 27, averaged 10.7 PPG, 4.3 dimes and 0.9 turnovers in 25.8 minutes with Real Madrid this past season.
Let’s hope for the best!