Sim Bhullar and the Sacramento Kings are about to make NBA history.
The Kings are signing Bhullar to a 10-day contract that will make him the league’s first player of Indian descent, a person with knowledge of the deal said Wednesday. TheKings are not expected to announce Bhullar’s deal until Thursday, when David Wear’s 10-day contract expires and a roster spot opens up.
ESPN first reported Bhullar’s signing.
The 7-foot-5, 360-pound Bhullar is being called up from the team’s NBA Development League affiliate, the Reno Bighorns. The 22-year-old centre will be on the roster Friday when the Kings host the New Orleans Pelicans.
Sacramento is intrigued by Bhullar’s size and heritage. Kings owner Vivek Ranadive is the NBA’s first Indian-born owner and is trying to expand the league’s presence in his native country.
When the Kings announced in August that Bhullar would compete for a roster spot in training camp, Ranadive called India the NBA’s “next great frontier.” He said Bhullar “represents one of many that will emerge from that region as the game continues to garner more attention and generate ever-increasing passion among a new generation of Indian fans.”
Undrafted last year, Bhullar joined the Kings in training camp before signing with Reno. He’s averaging 10.3 points, 8.8 rebounds and 3.8 blocks in David Arseneault’s fast-paced system in Reno.
In his last game Tuesday night, Bhullar had 19 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks in Reno’s 131-105 win over Bakersfield. He played 38 minutes.
Sim Bhullar is the son of immigrant parents from Punjab, his father Avtar was a seasoned Kabaddi player who wanted his children to play cricket, but quickly realized they were better basketball players.
“Being away from my family is one of the biggest sacrifice I’ve had to make. I’ve been at schools in the US since I was 16. I’ve missed going out with friends, missed family get-togethers etc. That I guess is what is required to get to a level,” Bhullar said in an interview with Can-India in June 2014.
Speaking to Can-India, Raptors Superfan and the team’s community ambassador Nav Bhatia was jubilant about the news. “It is very exciting for South Asians and basketball. Last year Nav Bhatia tried to get Sim drafted by Raptors but it didn’t quite pan out. “Sim was not ready then. Now he is ready. He has lost a lot of weight over last summer and has taken his body conditioning very seriously. I think he is ready to play a real game in a real league. He is ready for the NBA,” said Bhatia.