- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 12, 2009

Down to one healthy point guard, the Washington Wizards signed 11th-year veteran Earl Boykins on Wednesday to back up Gilbert Arenas while the club waits for the healthy return of three other players at that position.

“Earl is a proven veteran point guard who will provide us with leadership and stability off of the bench,” Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said.

The Wizards, who were playing without power forward Antawn Jamison and shooting guard Mike Miller, did get some good news on the injury front. Jamison, sidelined since Oct. 14 with a partial dislocation to his right shoulder, is expected to make his season debut Saturday against Detroit. Miller, who sprained his left shoulder Nov. 4, also could return.

The Wizards have played without third-year point guard Javaris Crittenton since training camp, when he aggravated a left foot injury that two weeks later required exploratory surgery and has restricted him to a walking boot. Mike James broke the ring finger on his left hand in practice Saturday and will be out at least five weeks.

The situation got worse in the Wizards’ 90-76 loss at Miami on Tuesday, when the only other backup point guard on the roster, fourth-year veteran Randy Foye, sprained his right ankle in the second quarter and did not return. Foye had received the bulk of the minutes behind Arenas.

Arenas was uncertain to play against the Heat shortly before the game. He strained his left calf Sunday and did not practice Monday. He warmed up Tuesday night, received treatment and told coach Flip Saunders he couldn’t play.

Saunders planned on starting Foye and backup shooting guard DeShawn Stevenson, but Arenas tested his calf again and declared himself fit enough to play.

“I was sitting there like I’m glad I decided to play,” Arenas said Tuesday night after playing a season-high 42 minutes. “I don’t know what Randy’s status is, but we just keep getting hit.”

Injuries have forced Saunders to scramble; he has used five starting lineups in eight games. He remarked Tuesday that he hadn’t had to shuffle players this much in 20 years, when as a coach in the CBA he often lost his best talent to the NBA and had to plug in new pieces.

But he has never seen anything quite like this.

“I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve lost three point guards,” said Saunders, whose short-handed club has stumbled to a 2-6 start. “And the one that was hurt the most coming into the season, [Arenas], is the healthiest of them all.”

Boykins, who signed a nonguaranteed contract, gives the Wizards a veteran who is familiar with a wide range of offensive systems. He has played for nine NBA teams, most recently for Charlotte in 2007-08. He also has some chemistry with Arenas and Jamison - they played on the same Golden State team in the 2002-03 season.

He was out of the NBA last season, playing for Italy’s Virtus Bologna on a $3.5 million contract. The 5-foot-5 Boykins, in his 10 NBA seasons, averaged 9.4 points and 3.5 assists.

To make room for him, the Wizards waived fourth-year forward/center Paul Davis, who appeared in just two games, averaging 2.5 points and 1.5 assists in 4.0 minutes.

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