The Thunder will have just three open roster spots this summer. Nazr Mohammed, Daequan Cook and Robert Vaden are all free agents. Mohammed and Cook might return.
But Pleiss simply might not be ready for the NBA. Though he's listed at 242 pounds, Pleiss is still thin and needs to bulk up. His game is still far more finesse than power. Because big men historically take longer to develop than guards, it's no telling how soon Pleiss will improve his perceived weaknesses. And Pleiss has always been viewed as a long-term investment rather than a player who could provide an immediate impact.
In 10 regular season games with Brose this season, Pleiss averaged 6.7 points and 6.3 rebounds in 19 minutes. Not bad production considering the stronger emphasis on team play internationally.
Still, there might be expectations for Pleiss to chart the same course Serge Ibaka took. Ibaka was a relative unknown when the Thunder franchise selected him 24th overall in the 2008 draft. He played the following season in Spain before joining the Thunder and developing into a shot blocking force in just two seasons.
The two aren't comparable, though.
Ibaka had so much elite athleticism that he could hold his own and have an impact even as a raw rookie. Pleiss doesn't possess those same natural gifts to cover up his weaknesses and all that he doesn't know.
“One thing we have learned over the years is that everyone's development curve is drastically different,” Presti said. “And a lot of times it has to do with opportunity; different situations.”