The Chicago Bulls are hunting for a new center and the team's owner says Washington Bullets center Moses Malone may be the player they're after.

The 6-foot-10 Malone is a free agent after playing last season with the Washington Bullets.Bulls' owner Jerry Reinsdorf said it would be up to Jerry Krause, the team's vice president for basketball operations, to decide whether to go after Malone.

"We certainly would not be reluctant to pay the money to get him if Jerry (Krause) decides that he's a guy who can help us," Reinsdorf said Thursday.

"It's obvious that we need a center and somebody who will help us score more points," he said. "I can't say specifically whether we will go after Moses Malone because that's a baseketball judgment that Jerry Krause has to make first."

The Bulls finished the season with a 50-32 record, but lost to the Detroit Pistons in the first round of the playoffs.

Reinsdorf acknowledged that he has some reservations about Malone.

"Obviously, with a guy like Moses you have to consider his age. And any time you're chasing a free agent, you have to consider if you're going to get him or not. I don't like to go out and bid for a player, drive the price up and then not get the player," Reinsdorf said.

"There's no point in pushing his salary up if he's going somewhere else," Reinsdorf said. "So my position with free agents has always been, `Let's sit down and talk about do you want to play for my team?' "

AP-SK-05-27-88 1946MDT