Raptors 905 are getting thinned out in a hurry. On the heels of losing Davion Berry (Greece) and Scott Suggs (Spain), at least for the short-term, and Keanau Post and the rights to Dee Bost (expansion draft) for the long-term, they’re now out one very, very big piece.
Bhullar should be a nice addition for the Tigers, who went 18-12 last season, as he’ll be the largest player not just in the league presently, but ever. At 7-foot-5 and somewhere around 355 pounds, Bhullar’s raw size advantage over the competition should make him a force close to the basket on both ends of the floor. For Bhullar, it’s a chance to cash in after two seasons spent primarily in the D-League, where salaries are modest (to be kind), though it’s unclear if he’ll have the option to return to North America late in the season, as some international signings (like potentially Berry) do – the Taiwanese regular season goes until mid-March, and the Tigers will surely be hoping for another playoff run after finishing third in the league last year.
This counts as a loss for the 905, who protected Bhullar’s rights in this week’s expansion draft, Raptors Republic has learned. The 905 acquired Bhullar’s rights at the beginning of their inaugural season, giving the Indo-Canadian plenty of patience and, later, opportunity. He didn’t travel with the team to begin the year, with the organization instead choosing to have him stay in one location to focus on functional conditioning. As the season wore on and Bhullar’s fitness improved, he began to carve out a larger role. It got to the point where Bhullar’s progress was downright impressive, and there was some thought in D-League circles that an NBA team with nothing to lose may give him a look on a 10-day contract, as the Sacramento Kings had before.
Instead, Bhullar remained with the 905, finishing the season averaging 9.6 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks in 21.8 minutes while shooting 65.8 percent from the floor. Those numbers represent a step back from his production a year prior for a Reno team that played at a break-neck pace, but Bhullar looked like a better player in 2015-16, one who may be on his way to figuring “it” out.
From there, Bhullar made the decision to eschew Las Vegas Summer League in order to join training camp with the Canadian national team. When he didn’t make the roster for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament, he shifted his focus to smaller, mostly local leagues and tournaments. The 24-year-old New Mexico State product will now turn his attention to the Taiwanese season, which apparently doesn’t begin until late November.
As for the 905, their roster is pretty bare-bones right now. Here’s the most recent accounting of the player rights they own and where those players are playing or last played.There’s still the draft, likely to take place in late October, plus the hope that at least a couple of the Raptors’ cuts will clear waivers and be amenable to a D-League stint, and what amounts to a full D-League offseason. The 905 should also see a steady stream of NBA assignments, including Bruno Caboclo, Pascal Siakam, Jakob Poeltl, maybe whoever grabs the 15th roster spot, and potentially even Delon Wright on a rehab stint once he’s ready to return from his shoulder injury (the team can only assign up to three players at a time).
And hey, there are open tryouts on Sept. 10, so maybe you, like Post and Ashton Smith last year, can fight your way on to this list.