Another day, another deal for the Milwaukee Bucks, who have suddenly become one of the biggest buyers during the most-hyped free agency period in NBA history.
The Bucks made another major move Friday, agreeing in principle to a $40 million, five-year deal with free agent guard John Salmons, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. The person spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity Friday because the deal can’t become official until next Thursday.
The move to lock up Salmons, who played for the final half of last season with the Bucks, came one day after free agent power forward Drew Gooden agreed to a $32 million, five-year deal.
The Bucks said Friday they planned to announce new deals with the players when the signing moratorium period ended. Players and teams may negotiate and strike deals, but nothing can be officially signed before Thursday.
While neither move is a max contract deal that will likely lure the top of the class to sign like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh, the Bucks are putting the finishing touches on a rotation that will likely be the same for some time.
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.
When Salmons, Jennings and Bogut played together before Bogut’s season-ending arm injury, Milwaukee won 18 of 23.
Now, all three will see several new faces, including Gooden, who agreed to sign with the Bucks for the midlevel exception, and forward Corey Maggette, who was traded to Milwaukee from Golden State just before the draft.
The Bucks’ front office has spent the better part of the last three seasons building financial flexibility with several inflated deals left over from previous management.
Milwaukee’s starting lineup will mostly likely be Jennings, Salmons, Maggette, Gooden and Bogut. The Bucks control the rights to all five for at least the next three seasons.
The Bucks also traded for guard Chris Douglas-Roberts and drafted three new players while trying to fill nine roster spots this offseason.