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OKC Thunder: International players Tibor Pleiss and Alex Abrines might have future with Thunder

Both are talented and remain well-regarded in NBA circles. They are expected to have a future in the league. But the question becomes how soon? When will Abrines or Pleiss be ready to make the jump?
by Anthony Slater Published: June 6, 2014

Beyond the cornerstone pieces, a back end roster shakeup is possible in Oklahoma City this offseason.

With enough money, assets, flexibility and needs, the Thunder is likely to add some pieces through free agency, trade or the draft.

But there’s another personnel path general manager Sam Presti can wander down. In past years, Presti stashed a pair of international players overseas, acquiring German center Tibor Pleiss in the 2010 draft and Spanish guard Alex Abrines in the 2013 draft.

Both are talented and remain well-regarded in NBA circles. They are expected to have a future in the league. But the question becomes how soon? When will Abrines or Pleiss be ready to make the jump?

“Those are things that we’ll take a look at once we get into the July period,” Presti said. “A lot of it is timing for them, what they’re thinking and then our roster construction, our resources, what we can devote to different spots on the roster.”

At this point, neither looks likely to make the leap this summer. But Pleiss seems a bit closer than Abrines.

At 24, Pleiss has been steadily developing the past few seasons. After jumping to the top Spanish league in 2012 – widely considered the best non-NBA league in the world – Pleiss bumped up all his production in his recently completed second season.

As the starting center for Laboral Kutxa, which also featured former NBA player Andres Nocioni and, briefly, disgruntled star Lamar Odom, Pleiss led the team in rebounds (5.9), blocks (1.1) and steals (0.8) per game. He averaged 12.4 points (second on the team) and shot 58 percent.

A 7-foot-2 center with a flexible enough international contract, Pleiss seems like a great candidate to become the latest in a long line of international guys to join the NBA ranks. But the Thunder’s current roster construction makes it a little trickier.

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by Anthony Slater
Thunder Beat Writer
Anthony Slater started on the Thunder beat in the summer of 2013, joining after two years as NewsOK.com's lead sports blogger and web editor. A native Californian, Slater attended Sonoma State for two years before transferring to Oklahoma State in...
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