After years of playing significant roles in the Euroleague and on the Brazilian national team, point guard Marcelo Huertas is planning a move to the NBA next season, Yahoo Sports has learned.
Huertas, 31, a savvy, athletic 6-foot-3 playmaker and a deft shooter, is expected to be aggressively pursued as a backup guard in July free agency.
Huertas has been anchored to the Spanish ACB League the past six years with long-term deals that contained significant NBA buyouts, but finally is free of those hurdles. He hasn’t ruled out returning to FC Barcelona next year if the right NBA offer doesn’t emerge, but Huertas is determined to take a serious look at joining the NBA.
“This is the right time,” Huertas told Yahoo Sports.
Huertas has played six seasons for FC Barcelona of the Spanish ACB, leading Barca to three consecutive Euroleague Final Four appearances. He’s averaging 7.4 points and 4.9 assists for Barcelona this season. Huertas is a career 87 percent free-throw shooter.
Huertas has been Brazil’s point guard in numerous Olympic Games, World Championships and FIBA America tournaments. He averaged 11 points and five assists for Brazil in the 2012 London Olympic Games.
The natural comparison to Huertas will be Houston’s Pablo Prigioni, an Argentinian point guard who came to the NBA later in his European career at the age of 35.
“Prigoni is the guy most likely to get compared to me, because our career trajectory had been similar in Europe,” Huertas said. “And like him, I can run a team without worrying about scoring.”
Nevertheless, Huertas is a more dynamic playmaker than Prigioni and far closer to his prime at 31.
“There’s so much more space in the NBA,” Huertas told Yahoo Sports. “It’s not like Europe now, where you have one guy full-time in the paint. Space is harder to come by. One of my strengths is playing in the pick-and-roll, finding open guys and making shots in the mid-range game off the dribble.
“I think that part is harder to find now, because you mostly have guys who get all the way to the hole, or they’re three-point shooters. And if I’m open, and I can get my feet set, I’m going to make a lot of those kind of shots.”
Huertas thinks he can make a difference in the locker room, too, by mentoring young players and meshing with veterans chasing playoff runs. Barcelona’s season could run into late June, especially given its standing as one of the Euroleague’s top teams.
“If you look at NBA rosters, there are unbelievable starting point guards, but maybe not as many guys who can come off the bench able to run the team, score the ball – as well as being able to be a leader for young players,” Huertas told Yahoo. “Those are things I know I’ll be able to bring with me.”
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