Pistons' free-agent targets: Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva

Chris McCosky / The Detroit News

The Pistons would love to sign Carlos Boozer should he decide today to opt out of the final year of his contract with the Jazz and become a free agent.

Why wouldn’t they? He’s 26 and one of the elite power forwards in the game, capable of averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds.However, if Boozer opts out, he would leave $12.6 million on the table in Utah. Thus, there is a good chance Boozer, as has been widely speculated, would look to start his next contract at $14 million or $15 million.

If that is the case, the Pistons most likely would walk away.

The Pistons expect to have between $17 million and $19 million of available cap space (the exact number will be determined within the next week when the NBA releases new salary-cap figures). With that, president Joe Dumars has said they hope to get at least two top-tier players — one is expected to be a scoring guard, the other a starting power forward.

Teams can begin negotiating with free agents Wednesday, but they can’t sign any until July 8.

Bulls guard Ben Gordon, an unrestricted free agent, is probably at the top of the Pistons’ wish list. At 26, he has become one of the most efficient and clutch scorers in the league, averaging 20.7 points with the Bulls last season, and 24 points in a brilliant playoff series against the Celtics.

Boozer was believed to be the Pistons’ top choice at power forward, but not at $14 million per year. Assuming Boozer does not dramatically reduce his asking price, the Pistons would go after Bucks forward Charlie Villanueva.

Villanueva will turn 25 in August and is coming off his best season. He averaged 16.2 points and 6.7 rebounds for the Bucks. At 6-foot-11, he can score off the dribble, is a better than average long-range shooter (45 percent) and has a clever post game.

The cash-conscious Bucks announced Monday they would not make a qualifying offer to Villanueva, making him an unrestricted free agent.


http://www.detnews.com/article/20090630/SPORTS0102/906300349/1127/

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