Fred Roberts has been packing his bags since he left Brigham Young University in 1982, and his basketball travels have taken him to Italy and through NBA ports like San Antonio, Salt Lake City and Boston.

Now Roberts has returned to Milwaukee with the Bucks, the team that originally drafted him six years ago. He's glad to be back and wouldn't mind staying around a while this time."It would be nice to settle down some place. I like the system, it suits me and I feel I can fit in well, but I also felt like that in Boston, Utah and San Antonio," the 6-foot-10 forward says with a laugh.

Roberts, who played his first season in Italy, had his rights traded by the Bucks to New Jersey in 1982. The Nets, whom he never played for, dealt him to San Antonio in part of the deal that allowed Stan Albeck to become New Jersey's coach.

After a stop in Utah and then two seasons with the Celtics, the well-traveled Roberts figured he'd be going south this season.

The Celtics did not protect him in the NBA expansion draft and he was chosen by the Miami Heat, who immediately traded him to Milwaukee for a second-round draft choice.

That's one trade that caught the flat-topped forward by surprise. He'd expected to be walking in sand, not snow this winter.

"I became excited about going to one of the expansion teams and getting to play a lot and having a chance to develop as a player," said Roberts, who started 14 games with Boston last year.

"And then I get all thrown off when Milwaukee traded for me. I just was shocked, didn't know what to think. My father-in-law called me and said, `You're so lucky.' And I said, `What do you mean? I was going to get to go down there and play a bunch.'

"He said, `You're so lucky. You get to go on a good team that is already established.' And the more I think about it, he's right."

Roberts' role with the Bucks, who open preseason play Friday night in Chicago, is also off the bench. He's started only 33 of 358 games in his five-year NBA career and has a 6.2 point average.

"Fred has become a solid backup player who can play two positions, both forward spots," Bucks Coach Del Harris said.

"I'll just try to make things happen, give us a lift," Roberts, 29, said.

Will he miss playing on the same team as Larry Bird?

"I'm glad I had that opportunity, just to see some of the things that made him great, see how determined and committed he is to the game and being the best he can be," he said.

"It was great but it's also nice to get away from that," Roberts said. "It's tough to play when he's there, tough to get in the game."