Sergio Llull, a Spanish combo guard whose NBA rights are owned by the Rockets, plans to play for Real Madrid again next season. In an interview with the Spanish language site Marca.com, Llull cites the six-year extension he signed with his current team in 2015.
“In the future you never know,” Llull said, “but I’ve renewed for six years and I’m not going to go next summer.”
The announcement adds to the doubt that the 29-year-old will ever have an NBA future. The Rockets have owned his draft rights since purchasing them from the Nuggets in 2009. Over that time, Llull has sent mixed signals about coming to the United States, raising the hopes of Houston management and fans, before deciding to stay in Spain. A report in October said the Rockets were hopeful about bringing Llull over next season, but his comments today seem to rule that out.
Llull’s Real Madrid teammates tell international basketball writer David Pick there’s “zero chance” he will leave the Spanish club (Twitter link).
There have been conflicting reports about the size of the buyout Llull would have to pay to escape his deal with Real Madrid. Some sources said it increased to 12 million euros when he signed the extension, but others indicated it’s far less. Llull wouldn’t be subject to the NBA’s rookie scale if he were to sign with Houston because he was a second-round pick and was taken so long ago. The Rockets would have to use cap room or an exception to fit him on their roster.