MILWAUKEE (AP) — Everyone who thought the Milwaukee Bucks would be among the most active teams on the first day of NBA free agency, please raise your hands.
The Bucks made a surprising early splash Thursday, agreeing in principle to a five-year, $32 million deal with free agent forward Drew Gooden.
Agent Stu Lash told The Associated Press that Gooden agreed to sign with the Bucks for the mid-level exception. Gooden is represented by Lash and Dan Fegan of Lagardere-Unlimited.
"One of the things that attracted Drew to Milwaukee was the stability, from the front office to the coaching staff," Lash said.
Stability has been sorely lacking for Gooden, who was taken by Memphis with the No. 4 overall pick out of Kansas in the 2002 draft.
The eight-year pro has played for eight teams, including the Clippers and Mavericks last season. He has averaged 11.9 points and 7.9 rebounds per game but hasn't managed to stick anywhere.
"He wants a home," Lash said. "(That's important) for a guy that's moved around quite a bit."
Lash noted that Gooden has a good relationship with Bucks coach Scott Skiles, dating back to his time with the Chicago Bulls.
At 6-foot-10 and 250 pounds, Gooden's size fills a major need for the Bucks: a power forward to team with center Andrew Bogut. And the deal with Gooden isn't expected to stop the Bucks in their continued pursuit of a new deal with John Salmons, who arrived in a trade with Chicago last season and played a critical role in the Bucks' playoff push.
Bucks officials were not available for comment Thursday.
It's the continuation of an offseason makeover for Bucks general manager John Hammond, who is looking to build on the team's surprising success last season.
Hammond made a pair of trades last week, acquiring forward Corey Maggette from Golden State and guard Chris Douglas-Roberts from New Jersey. Hammond also took Virginia Commonwealth power forward Larry Sanders with the 15th overall pick in last week's draft, along with three second-round picks.
To two of those second-rounders who were introduced to reporters on Thursday, Darington Hobson and Tiny Gallon, the recent round of roster moves was another sign that the Bucks are a team destined to improve.
"I think they made some good moves last year to get them over the hump, make it back to the playoffs, make a run at Atlanta," said Hobson, a shooting guard from New Mexico. "Now you add Chris Douglas-Roberts, Corey Maggette ... maybe some more free agents, hopefully sign John (Salmons) back, and you've got a very good young (core) — but still have some veterans — on a team that's going to be very competitive."
Gallon, a forward out of Oklahoma, noted that he had heard reports that Gooden was headed to the Bucks.
"It's just a rumor, but we get him, that's another positive thing," Gallon said. "The Milwaukee Bucks are going to be on the rise this year."