Rockets produce another head-scratcher with Boykins signing


Earl Boykins and Samuel Dalembert are now teammates. Um, why?

In a curious move on Monday, the Rockets signed 5-foot-5, 35-year-old point guard Earl Boykins in an attempt to get a more sure hand in the backcourt.

The move, first reported by the Houston Chronicle, is an intriguing one. Boykins was said to possibly be ready to suit up for Monday night’s game against Sacramento in Houston.

With Kyle Lowry’s future looking more unsure by the day as he tries to come back from a bacterial infection, the Rockets signed Boykins for insurance. Courtney Fortson, who signed a 10-day contract with Houston on March 17, is still expected to be brought back on at least another 10-day deal, giving Houston four point guards on its roster.

Boykins has career averages of 8.9 points and 3.2 assists in 644 NBA games. He is a scorer, much like Fortson, and not really a point guard who makes teammates better, which makes the move even more curious since he is essentially an older, smaller Fortson. Boykins is a strong shooter and has ties to the Rockets’ coaching staff; he averaged 7.2 points and 2.5 assists in 57 games last season with Milwaukee, where current Rockets assistant Kelvin Sampson was an assistant.

I don’t like the move. Fortson has shown enough to warrant more trust and responsibility as the fulltime backup point guard. Boykins doesn’t add anything Fortson doesn’t. Both are undersized (Fortson is 5-foot-11) score-first point guards, though Fortson is more valued because he is 12 years younger and owns devastating, if uncontrollable, speed. For a team whose roster will look completely remodeled come next season, and with the future coming into play sooner than later, it doesn’t make sense to add a veteran who won’t be here long and not develop a young talent into a potential piece of the puzzle.

If the Rockets were set on the fact that Fortson wasn’t enough, I would have liked to have seen current Rio Grande Valley Viper Will Conroy given another shot with the parent club. Conroy, 29, is averaging 12.7 points, 9.2 assists and 4.7 rebounds in the Valley. He has played in 12 NBA games, last appearing with the Rockets in 2009-2010, when he averaged 1.2 points and 1.4 assists in 7.2 minutes per contest in five games, but he deserves a second chance, particularly with an organization that is familiar with his skillset and a system he in turn is familiar with as well.

Conroy’s shooting is shaky (he’s shooting 38 percent this season, though owning a career 47 percentage in 202 NBDL games; he missed 10 of his 13 shots in the NBA), but he is a playmaker in the truest sense and would have at least added a different dynamic to the Rockets’ point guard crop with his ability to look for others first and play defense.

Obviously no one expects Boykins to be a difference-maker. He is well past his prime, and on a team that already gets abused defensively, he doesn’t add much punch on that end. It’s a move that just doesn’t make sense. The Rockets could have committed to Fortson or gone another, more logical route by bringing in anyone but an over-the-hill, undersized veteran with a career shooting percentage of 41.7.

The move is just another sign that this team seriously has its eye on making a run this season instead of aligning its chips for the future. That’s a direction that’s not only misguided, but woefully short-sighted and potentially a setback in the long run.