Boykins opting out, will test free agent market
Bucks general manager Larry Harris confirmed the 5-foot-5 Boykins, the second smallest player in NBA history, has given him no indication he intends to fulfill the option year. Boykins has until Saturday to notify the team if he plans to return.
"Earl is going to be a free agent," Harris said.
Boykins' agent, Mark Termini, did not immediately return calls or messages seeking comment Tuesday.
Milwaukee acquired Boykins, along with Julius Hodge and cash, from Denver for Steve Blake on Jan. 11 after injuries left the Bucks without four of their five starters. Hodge was cut less than a month later, but Boykins provided a lift for a team struggling without injured star Michael Redd.
Boykins joined the Bucks during a stretch when the team went 3-17 after Redd went out with a strained left knee on Jan. 5.
Boykins scored in double digits in 24 of his 35 games in Milwaukee, averaging 14 points and 4.5 assists. He twice had a career-high 36 points in a game with the Bucks.
Harris said he wants to keep Mo Williams, likely the second-most sought after point guard when free agency begins behind Chauncey Billups. But Harris has made it clear the Bucks will take the best player available with the sixth pick on Thursday.
"We're focused on the three areas we need to have," Harris said. "We need a point guard or point guards. We need a small, athletic forward and we need a power player."
Boykins, a Cleveland native who still holds a summer basketball camp there and talks fondly of his hometown, is a nine-year veteran who has played part of two seasons with the Cavaliers, appearing in 47 games between 1998-2000. He also played for New Jersey, Orlando, the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State before spending 3½ seasons with Denver, where he blossomed as a role player and averaged a career high in points each year.
That elevated Williams to the point position. Williams, who had previously been a shooting guard, played effectively, setting career high averages in points (17.3), rebounds (4.8) and field goal percentage (44.5 percent). But he also set a career-high in turnovers, averaging 3.0 per game.
Harris said he'd like to bring the well-liked Williams back, but how much Williams asks for in free agency might take the Bucks out of the bidding.
"I really can't start talking to him until July 1, but I know his intentions are to stay here," Harris said. "We certainly are looking forward to exploring those opportunities on July 1."
If the Bucks can't keep Williams and don't look to a point guard in Thursday's draft, they'll be left with converting another shooting guard, Charlie Bell, to the point, or elevating little-known Lynn Greer.
Bell started 64 games, primarily because of Bucks' injuries. Greer, who played overseas for four years before signing a free agent deal last offseason, appeared in 41 games without a start, but scored 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting in a career-high 32 minutes against the Hornets in April.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press