Gordon, Villanueva fill holes for Detroit

The Pistons moved quickly and signed two of the best free agents available

Updated: July 2, 2009, 12:40 PM ET
By John Hollinger |
Charlie VillanuevaGary Dineen/NBAE/Getty ImagesThe additions of Villanueva from the Bucks and Gordon from the Bulls give Detroit a different look.

I can't help shaking the feeling that when the Pistons traded Chauncey Billups at the start of last season, it wasn't so they could sign Ben Gordon to replace him.

Unfortunately, this is what the free-agent market left the Pistons. Once Detroit determined that Carlos Boozer wasn't worth the money he sought, the team had only two alternatives with its $20 million trove of cap space: Move quickly to sign the next-best players available, or hold the money for next year and try again.

This option was probably the more prudent strategy, for a couple of reasons. First, Detroit got two young players, which is important. Today's reported agreements with Gordon for five years and $55 million, and Charlie Villanueva for five years and $40 million, would be hugely risky with veteran players in their late 20s. But since Gordon is only 26 and Villanueva is only 24, the Pistons limited their risk.