In 2004, just a few months before Ben Wallace lifted the NBA Championship trophy high for the crowd to see, the guard that had spent a few years with him going from Orlando to Detroit, was no longer by his side.
Chucky Atkins had seen his role continually change while alongside Jerry Stackhouse and then Richard Hamilton. In Detroit, he had found the playing time that he treasured and he thought he was heading for an NBA championship with the Pistons when he got the call that he had been traded again. In 2009-10, Atkins is playing with a chip on his shoulder as he looks to squeeze some last life out of his career.
Atkins is a 35-year old journeyman guard with a career scoring average in double digits. He has had the infamous role of being traded for Grant Hill, Gary Payton and Kwame Brown.
His timing has also been haunting as he went from a South Florida team (now in the Big East) to a CBA squad in Wisconsin that folded one year after he arrived. While timing has never been his thing, he has now worked his way onto the Pistons starting lineup just two months after he was waived by the Minnesota Timberwolves (now 2-15). This move by Coach Kuester opens up Ben Gordon, Rodney Stuckey and Will Bynum to new roles better suited to their unique play.
Time will tell if this moves the Pistons back in playoff contention within the Eastern Conference, or if this move is just a ploy to get players like Stuckey to work harder in practice. No matter what the result is for the Pistons, this must feel like a new experience for this NBA veteran to get one last starting rotation spot. After all, it was just three years ago that Atkins averaged over 13 ppg for a depleted Grizzlies squad.