For some of the more die-hard and dialed-in Thunder fans, Tibor Pleiss has turned into something of a 7-foot-1 German myth.
Since OKC secured Pliess' draft rights in 2010, his name has floated around in discussions, articles and interviews regarding the franchise's future, always attached to an “if” or “when” he decides to come over.
The grainy YouTube highlights confirm his existence. But next year, the wait for Pliess' services will stretch into season four, with no immediate end in sight.
Recently, on his blog, the German center announced his intention to return to the Euroleague to play out the second season of his four-year contract with Caja Laboral.
“I am in contact with Thunder GM Sam Presti and I often speak on phone with Jonny Rogers, who lives in Barcelona and he is a scout for the Thunder in Europe,” Pleiss wrote in the post. “They look at me each game and they are very satisfied for my performances. But I don't want to be misunderstood: I think to the NBA in the medium term and I don't want to talk too much about it. After this season I have three more years on my contract with Baskonia and I will stay at least next season. I feel the confidence of coach Zan Tabak. I know I can become a better player in Vitoria, which is crucial for me.”
Last season, the 23-year-old averaged 5.0 points and 3.9 rebounds in 14.2 minutes per game, showing steady improvement throughout his first season in what many consider the world's premier non-NBA basketball league.
“Sam Presti and his scouting staff, I think, have come up with a gem here,” ESPN international basketball expert Fran Fraschilla said when Pleiss was drafted. “Because in a draft, with a lot of quality big guys, this young guy has long term potential … He runs well, he catches well, he shoots it well. Think of a young Rik Smits.”