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Thursday, July 1, 2010
Bucks (still) fishing for Salmons

By Chad Ford

Free agent John Salmons is moving closer to returning to the Milwaukee Bucks, but a deal is not done yet.

The Bucks and Salmons have been discussing a five-year, $39 million deal both last night and today, according to league sources.

However, sources stressed that a deal is not done and details still need to be worked out.  At issue appears to be the fifth year.  The Bucks are pushing for that fifth year to be only partially guaranteed, sources said, but both sides remain committed to getting the deal done.

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 that the team was moving on.

However, this development suggests that the Bucks remain serious about putting together a team that could make another serious run at the playoffs.

The Bucks earlier today came to a verbal agreement with free agent Drew Gooden worth $32 million over five years, a source close to Gooden told ESPN's Ric Bucher.

If the Bucks end up locking up Gooden and Salmons, they'll have 11 players under contract and will be a back-up point guard away from finishing their summer's work.

The Bucks appear ready to pay a premium this summer for two players who have essentially been role players in the past.  Why?

Sources say that the Bucks are determined not to take a step back after winning the sixth playoff seed in the East last season.  The team believes that they have 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 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.  The team is aiming for something in the neighborhood of 45 to 50 wins this season.  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.