Knicks Acquire Sergio Llull's Draft Rights in Austin Rivers Sign-and-Trade

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistNovember 27, 2020

Houston Rockets' Austin Rivers reacts to his shot during the second quarter of Game 2 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo via AP)
Kevin C. Cox/Associated Press

The New York Knicks announced Friday that as part of the sign-and-trade deal that brought in guard Austin Rivers from the Houston Rockets, they also acquired the draft rights to Spanish guard Sergio Llull.

New York acquired the draft rights to forwards Tadija Dragicevic and Axel Hervelle as well, while Houston picked up the draft rights to guard Issuf Sanon.

Marc Stein of the New York Times reported the Rockets also created a trade exception by executing the deal.

Rivers is the best-known player in the trade, as he has spent eight years in the NBA with the New Orleans Pelicans, Los Angeles Clippers, Washington Wizards and Rockets.

Per Spotrac, Rivers signed a three-year, $10 million contract with the Knicks as part of the deal, but his contract is non-guaranteed in the 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons.

Last season, the 28-year-old Rivers appeared in 68 games and averaged 8.8 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists primarily as a bench player.

In 552 career regular-season games, the former Duke standout owns averages of 9.2 points, 2.3 assists and 2.1 rebounds.

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Rivers' best season came in 2017-18 as a member of the Clippers while playing under his father, Doc Rivers. Rivers started a career-high 59 games that season and averaged 15.1 points, 4.0 assists, 2.4 rebounds and 1.2 steals.

As a combo guard, Rivers should have plenty of opportunities to earn minutes in New York along with the likes of Frank Ntilikina, Elfrid Payton, Dennis Smith Jr., Alec Burks and Reggie Bullock.

Although he has never played in the NBA, Llull is a fairly significant player as well. The 33-year-old was a second-round pick by the Denver Nuggets in 2009 whose draft rights were then sold to the Rockets.

Llull is a two-time EuroLeague champion and six-time Spanish League champion who won both the EuroLeague and Spanish League MVP in 2017.

Additionally, Llull helped lead Spain to a silver medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and a bronze medal at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Stein noted that while Llull isn't expected to make the leap to the NBA at this point in his career, the Knicks now have the right to negotiate with him.

The 34-year-old Dragicevic is a native of Serbia who was taken by the Utah Jazz in the second round of the 2008 NBA draft, while the 37-year-old Hervelle is a Belgian player who was taken in the second round of the 2005 NBA draft by the Denver Nuggets.

Of the players whose draft rights were traded, the Rockets landed the one who may be most likely to play in the NBA at some point. Sanon, 21, plays in the Ukrainian Basketball SuperLeague and was a second-round pick by the Wizards in 2018.