Sergio Llull, the Spanish point guard the Rockets have been trying to lure over from Europe for years, will stay in Europe, Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski reports. Cross the Rockets' top free agent point guard target off their list.
Llull will stay with Real Madrid after negotiating with the Rockets, Woj said. Houston would have had to pay his $5.6 million buyout and likely would have had to offer him the full mid-level exception. It would not have been easy, but it would have helped. Now the Rockets have two point guards on the roster, Nick Johnson and Pablo Prigioni, two free agents, Patrick Beverley and Jason Terry, and no one who is a starting-caliber point on a championship team.
Llull is a terrific competitor, above-average shooter and, if scouts are to be believed, would have been the perfect running mate for James Harden. Instead, re-signing Beverley — which means matching an outside offer, likely from the Knicks — has to now be priority No. 1 for free agency. If Bev can hold out signing an offer sheet and the Rockets swing-and-miss on LaMarcus Aldridge (as they likely will), they can offer the MLE to Rodney Stuckey. Stuckey wants to play with a contender, the Rockets are interested and it seems like a good fit.
Many thought Llull to the Rockets was a slam dunk, but, looking back on our coverage, all the conversation was coming from the Rockets side of the negotiating table. Daryl Morey said they wanted to bring over Llull, so did Kevin McHale, and the reports were that the Rockets would offer him $24 million. No report said he wanted to leave, wanted to join the Rockets or anything of that nature. Our hoping nature got the better of us, and we assumed too much.
The Rockets got to the Western Conference Finals last year with Jason Terry and Pablo Prigioni playing 99 percent of their minutes at the point. Getting an All-Star is not a necessity, but relying on Beverley, Terry and an improved Nick Johnson (assuming Pablo's non-guaranteed contract is waived) is not an ideal situation. Still.