More than two weeks after Jody Gennesey’s mysterious TSA source broke the news that Tibor Pleiss had arrived in Salt Lake City, the towering German is finalizing a deal worth $10 million over three years with the Utah Jazz (per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo). The 25-year-old 7’3 Center will be relocating from Barcelona to Salt Lake City in the near future for his NBA debut.
Moving around is not a new thing for Pleiss. Just a little more than three years ago, Pleiss was thrilled to be joining the ACB, the second-best basketball league in the world. In an interview prior to his ACB start he was asked if he could speak Spanish. He responded that he knew very little but that he did know some of the basics including “chica bonita.” Luckily, Pleiss won’t need to worry about learning English as he already speaks it fluently.
As most Jazz fans know, Pleiss was playing backup minutes in Barcelona behind Ante Tomic, another player Utah holds draft rights to. In Tibor’s limited minutes he was productive, although not inspirational. Several international scouts and media members are dubious of his chances of being a good NBA player. The most common concerns with his game are his limited speed (movement and shooting stroke alike) and his strength. But in spite of these concerns, the Jazz feel they will be able to get more out of him in the NBA than Barcelona did with him in the ACB. Specifically, Dennis Lindsey has spoken highly of his methodical and accurate shooting, which was almost unseen in the Euroleague. Tibor has proven he has an impressive touch by shooting an extraordinary 85 percent from the free throw line.
Pleiss is the latest of a slew of international players joining the Jazz. In fact, the Jazz (as currently constructed) will have a total of six international players including Rudy Gobert (France), Dante Exum (Australia), Joe Ingles (Australia), Trey Lyles (Canada), Raulzhino Neto (Brazil), and Tibor Pleiss. The recently drafted Olivier Hanlan is also from Canada, but with Neto signing a three-year deal, it makes it unlikely Hanlan will be joining the 2015-2016 roster.
Recently Jazz fans have expressed skepticism about whether they would ever see Tibor Pleiss in a Jazz uniform because of the torturous Ante Tomic drama. And while Pleiss did have interest from other ACB teams, his strong desire to play in the NBA (and $10 million) helped lead him Utah. Proving that there is a time and place for everything, Tibor is taking his turn.