Toronto-born, 7-foot-5 centre Sim Bhullar is the first player of Indian heritage to sign with an NBA team.
Toronto-born centre Sim Bhullar has signed a free agent deal with the Sacramento Kings, two months after getting passed over in the NBA draft.
Bhullar, who played on the Kings summer league team, is the first player of Indian heritage to sign with an NBA team.
Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, a Mumbai-born tech billionaire, believes he won’t be the last.
“I’ve long believed that India is the next great frontier for the NBA, and adding a talented player like Sim only underscores the exponential growth basketball has experienced in that nation,” Ranadive said Friday in a press release.
“While Sim is the first player of Indian descent to sign with an NBA franchise, he 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.”
The Kings televised over 20 games live in India last season, launched a website in Hindi, sent players and dancers to Mumbai, and signed the team’s first India-based sponsor.
Bhullar was first to announce his signing on Twitter.
“Dreams do come true! Officially signed my first NBA contract with the @sacramentokings !!,” he tweeted.
Terms weren’t disclosed, but a source told the Star’s Doug Smith that the deal isn’t fully guaranteed.
In two seasons of NCAA action with New Mexico State, the 7-foot-5, 360-pound Bhullar averaged 10.2 points, and one assist per game. But it was on the boards where his presence was most felt. During his two seasons, he averaged 7.2 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game.
Bhullar was voted the most valuable player of the Western Athletic Conference tournament after leading the Aggies to the championship last season.
Bhullar, 21, also worked out for the Raptors before the NBA draft before heading to Sacramento.
While the odds are against an undrafted player actually sticking with a team once training camp ends, it’s not unprecedented. There are some who’ve gone on to become stars, including Miami Heat power forward Udonis Haslem, and now-retired Detroit Pistons defensive stalwart Ben Wallace.
While a record four Canadians were drafted this year, including No. 1 overall Andrew Wiggins and No. 8 Nik Stauskas, there were several others NBA teams passed on.
Toronto-born small forward Melvin Ejim, who played with the Philadelphia 76ers summer league team, signed a deal late last month with Virtus Roma of the Italian league.
Earlier this month, undrafted 7-foot-2 Calgary-born centre Jordan Bachynski signed a one-year contract with Olin Edirne of the Turkish league.
Montreal’s Khem Birch, also a power forward, played summer league ball for the Washington Wizards, but is still unsigned.