- Chad Ford, ESPN Senior Writer
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The Milwaukee Bucks have verbally agreed to a five-year, $39 million deal with free-agent guard John Salmons, according to league sources. Sources say that the last year of the deal is only partially guaranteed.
Salmons exercised a player opt-out on his contract last week. The Bucks responded by making deals for Corey Maggette and Chris Douglas-Roberts on draft day. It was widely assumed that the two deals were a signal the team was moving on.
But this development suggests the Bucks remain serious about putting together a team that could make another run at the playoffs.
The Bucks on Thursday came to a verbal agreement with free agent Drew Gooden worth $32 million over five years.
By locking up Gooden and Salmons, the Bucks have 11 players under contract and will be a back-up point guard away from finishing their summer's work.
The 6-foot-6 Salmons arrived in a trade with Chicago last season and played a critical role in helping the Bucks reach the playoffs for the first time in four years. Salmons carried the Bucks down the stretch, taking pressure off rookie point guard Brandon Jennings and center Andrew Bogut and averaging 19.9 points per game.
More telling, the Bucks went 22-8 with him and took Atlanta to seven games in the first round.
Sources say the Bucks are determined not to take a step back after winning the sixth playoff seed in the East last season. The team believes it has two young stars in Brandon Jennings and Andrew Bogut and are determined to surround them with veterans who are happy and willing to take a supporting role.
The Bucks, aiming for something in the neighborhood of 45 to 50 wins this season, believe that Gooden provides them with some much-needed rebounding in the paint and that the combination of Maggette, Salmons and Douglas-Roberts gives them potent scorers on the wings for 2010-11.
Then next summer, when Michael Redd's $18 million comes off the books, the team will be in a position to add another piece or two to the puzzle.
Chad Ford covers the NBA for ESPN.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
16hMatt Walks, ESPN.com