Sergio Llull – Team Spain
Sergio Llull might just be the most interesting player outside of the NBA in professional basketball today.
He was initially drafted by the Denver Nuggets in 2009 before having the rights to his pick purchased by the Houston Rockets for a then-record $2.25 million by a relatively obscure GM by the name of Daryl Morey.
Are you familiar with Morey? I think he follows me on Twitter, but you know, I’m not really sure.
While Llull could have made his way stateside like so many of his fellow countrymen before him – he did share the court with everyone from Ricky Rubio to Willy Hernangomez in Eurobasket after all – the 2017 EuroLeague MVP consistently avoided the lucrative offers presented by Morey and company in favor of the familiarity of Real Madrid, his professional team since 2007.
There’s a really good article on Llull from Bleacher Report titled “The Man Who Told the NBA ‘No’” by Matthew Foley that I would highly recommend checking out if you want some more in-depth insight into the now-33-year-old.
So why, you may ask, am I getting into such detail about a player who reportedly wants to return to Real Madrid long-term and has consistently spurned a chance to join the Rockets in years past, even when he had a legitimate shot to start next to James Harden at the point guard position.
Well, for one, because his story is just so unique, but also because if there’s anyone who could get Llull over to the NBA for one final chance to test his mettle against the best in the world, it’d be Morey.
Though the exact stipulations of securing Llull’s services are murky, Morey was in contact with Llull’s camp as recently as 2020 and clearly still saw a role for the veteran combo guard in the NBA.
Will it happen? No. But definitely check out the player who gave the NBA the bird for a decade-plus and imagine what he would have looked like stateside during his prime, maybe even in a Philadelphia 76ers uniform.