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Chucky Atkins is a free agent

Here's some interesting news that kind of slipped under the radar: the Wizards bought out Chucky Atkins' contract on Wednesday, which means that he's now free to sign with any other team in the league.

Atkins was largely responsible for helping the Wizards defeat the Pistons earlier in the year and received a standing ovation from Palace fans in the process. Since that game, a lot of fans have suggested it'd be a good idea to find a way to bring him back. As for me, I'm not sure he's the best fit for the offense, and he certainly doesn't bring much on defense, so I'm perfectly content sticking with a combination of Carlos Arroyo and Lindsey Hunter for the rest of the season. (Most importantly, I don't have a clue if the Pistons would even be able to sign him if they wanted to -- I'm not learned enough in the salary cap to know what the team's true options are.)

But of course, adding Atkins wouldn't mean losing Arroyo or Hunter. Instead, it would likely mean losing Alex Acker, a rookie who's dressed for only one game this year and hasn't seen any action since the preseason. Now, Acker was literally the last pick of the 2005 draft and is playing for the rookie minimum, and it's doubtful if he'll ever play a meaningful minute for the Pistons this year. Atkins, on the other hand, could be useful injury insurance down the stretch. . . if he were willing to join Dale Davis at the end of the bench and collect DNP-CD's.Did Not Play - Coach's Decision Back to that point in a few moments.

On the other hand, Acker turns 23 on Saturday, so he's eight years younger, and at 6-5, he's a good six inches taller. He's got long, rangy arms and can play both guard spots. Plus, the Pistons don't have a first-round draft pick in 2006, which is probably one of the reasons they decided to carry three rookies into this season. Maybe I'm simply more excited about taking a chance on the unknown commodity instead of settling for a familiar veteran with a clear ceiling, but I'd prefer the Pistons to hold onto the younger player to see how he develops. Don't get me wrong, I liked Atkins just as much as the next guy when he was here, but the roster is clearly holding its own in its current state, and giving a kid like Acker better serves the long-term health of the franchise.

So what's going to happen? I don't have a clue. If the Pistons approach Atkins, they'll likely tell him from the get-go that he wouldn't be a regular cog in the rotation. He wasn't content with his role in Washington, but after missing out on a ring with Detroit in 2004, I wouldn't be surprised if he'd welcome a return to the Pistons even under less than (his) ideal circumstances.

So we'll wait and see. It's 1 A.M. Thursday morning as I write this, so it's very possible one of the beat writers from the Free Press or News will have a nice official statement from the Pistons stating their level of interest waiting for us in today's paper. But until then, we can only speculate.

Wizards buy out contract of G Atkins [SportsTicker]
Chucky Atkins knows how to beat Detroit [Detroit Bad Boys]