If you didn't believe the rumors before, believe Kevin McHale now... the Houston Rockets want to sign Spanish point guard Sergio Llull this offseason.
McHale dropped two references to the Real Madrid playmaker during a Monday interview with Charlie Pallilo on Sports Talk 790:
"We'd love to bring over Sergio Llull from Spain""Signing a Sergio Lull would be huge."- Rockets coach Kevin McHale 6/1/2015 -
Llull was drafted by the Denver Nuggets 34th overall in 2009. The Rockets purchased his rights for $2.25 million. Since then the Rockets have been unsuccessful at bringing Llull to the NBA. Llull's continued presence in his home country is one part previously irreconcilable contract and one part winning two titles with one of Europe's most dominant franchises.
A swirl of rumors developed in March when Daryl Morey made a European scouting trip and visited Llull and his agent. At the time Ryan wrote about speculation the Rockets would offer Llull a $17 million three-year deal.
Llull doesn't blow up the stat sheet, but he's recognized as a floor captain with a high basketball IQ who could settle into a regular role with any NBA team.
While Llull may be the winning recipient of an NBA roster spot and a cool ten-figure contract, the loser of this may be Kostas Papanikolaou. The Rockets hold a team option for the second year of the Greek forward's two-year $9.6 million contract. "Big Papa" showed signs of prosperity before injury, but found himself glued to the bench as the Rockets made a deep run in the playoffs.
Signing Llull and retaining cap flexibility will likely come at Papanikolaou's expense.
The interview with McHale begins at minute 126: