Earl Boykins is something the Washington Wizards could have never expected. For better and for worse.
Really, what does it say when Ernie Grunfeld has the eye to grab a diminutive journeyman point guard that can produce on a consistent basis? It says he knows what he’s doing.
But what happens when that same diminutive point guard is your best fourth quarter scoring option ? Given all of the scoring ability on this roster, it also indicates that Grunfeld doesn’t know what he’s doing.
This is the gift and the curse of Earl Boykins, the little guy with the big game and growing expectations to match it. He is steady where Gilbert Arenas has been erratic, consistent where Caron Butler has been unreliable, and available where Antawn Jamison has been injured.
Were you to single out a Mr. Fourth Quarter at the beginning of this season, it would’ve been impossible to peg Boykins as the guy.
He wasn’t even on the opening day roster.
And therein lies the rub. The Wizards were visionary enough to go get him, but with their struggles, can ill afford to be free of him. Size be damned; Boykins has already proven himself a valuable commodity through 10 years and almost as many teams in that time. No one will doubt his ability to play.
But they can ill afford their $111 million dollar man not taking the shots or creating them for the other players upon which the franchise’s marketing and league-wide appeal are built. Can you imagine the TNT plug for the next Wizards-Cavs nationally televised game?
“Watch Gilbert Arenas and Earl Boykins take on LeBron James and Shaquille O’Neal in a battle of bitter Eastern Conference rivals.”
Can you imagine the material Charles Barkley will have dreamed up between shots of Patron at halftime of said game?
The name of the game is winning, And it’s becoming indisputable that Boykins provides the Wizards their best chance of doing that in closely-contested games. But Boykins’ arrival in D.C. was more stopgap than sparkplug, and now that he’s proven to be the latter, the Wizards will soon find themselves in a place where they either have to pay him to stay, or justify their reasoning if they let him go.
Earl Boykins is quickly becoming exactly what the franchise needs in a team leader. Great. But his emergence is quickly becoming a small issue on the large list of Wizards personnel woes, and pretty soon, it will wear its classification of being a “good problem to have” very thin.