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Bucks close in on Boykins, Gallon's future in doubt

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Charles Gardner of the JS reports the Bucks are closing in on a one year deal that would bring Earl Boykins back to Milwaukee as a third point guard behind Brandon Jennings and recent signing Keyon Dooling. At 34, Boykins' best days as a bench sparkplug are behind him, but it's also not like he'll be getting any minutes while Jennings and Dooling are upright. The Bucks are out of cap space and have already used their MLE on Drew Gooden and BAE on Dooling, so they can't offer Boykins more than the minimum ($1.352 million for 10+ year vets). 

As we mentioned a couple weeks ago, the Bucks have carried at least three point guards on the opening night roster in each season of the Hammond/Skiles era, so broadly speaking it's not surprising to see them add some depth in the backcourt. That said, the Bucks now have 14 players under contract without having signed either of their second round picks, leaving just one spot for either Darington Hobson or Tiny Gallon

Gallon would appear the likely odd man out, and his agent Marc Cornstein told Gery Woelfel this week that they're "exploring all possibilities," including Europe. That would now be an ideal scenario for the Bucks, who haven't shown any interest in coddling rookies but would probably prefer to keep the 19-year-old's rights while he develops on someone else's dime. The alternative is trying to quickly trade Gallon's rights for a future pick or letting him walk entirely, which would be a serious waste considering they only drafted him two months ago.  Then again, somebody at Bucks HQ must still have some love for Tiny--he's currently on the front page of Bucks.com posing with Larry Sanders in a picture from the rookie photo shoot.  

Hobson hasn't exactly given the Bucks much to go on either, missing summer league due to a groin strain. It's also a bit curious that Gallon would be at the rookie shoot while Hobson was absent [update: it's apparently the NBA who picks the photo shoot attendees], but you'd think the Bucks will have a bit more patience with the former New Mexico star considering he was their first pick in the second round (37th). Meanwhile, Gallon was taken 47th (the Bucks also passed on him with the 44th pick) and looked out of shape and a bit overwhelmed in Vegas. Hobson was probably the third string PG by default up until now, but clearly the Bucks weren't comfortable with that scenario. Makes sense--just because a 6'7" guy has PG skills on offense doesn't mean you want him defending the position.

Then again, patience isn't something the Bucks have shown much of when it comes to draft picks, though it hasn't come back to hurt them as of yet. A year ago, John Hammond made Joe Alexander the highest drafted player ever to have his first option year declined, and Jodie Meeks was flipped after half a season for the Sixers' 2010 second rounder (which they used to draft Hobson). Much of it can be attributed to high standards and a willingness on the front office's part to admit mistakes--both very good things.

Still, they can't claim ignorance with Gallon. Any scout with a pair of eyes can see he's had weight problems and transient focus on the court, but he's still a kid with the potential to be a quality NBA player. Even if Gallon is the hoops equivalent of a way-out-of-the-money call option right now, he still has value. And while signing Boykins may be the more rational short-term move, it's also not something worth getting excited over.

As for Boykins, he's one of the game's more interesting players. At 5'5" he's always had a remarkable knack for creating his own shot against players significantly bigger than him, which he did quite well for the Bucks fans in the second half of the lost 06/07. Though his assist rates aren't terrible, he's mostly a guy looking for his own shot, which wasn't a good thing last year when he posted a Jennings-esque 49.8% true shooting percentage. Still, third string PGs are by definition guys you don't want on the court, and hopefully the Bucks won't need him with any regularity.  As for his contract, Woelfel just tweeted that his deal is fully guaranteed, though it's worth noting that the league office will pay for about $500k of his $1.352 million salary. To assure that teams don't shy away from signing older veterans to minimum-level deals, the NBA pays the difference between 3+ year veteran mins and the minimum for two-year vets ($854k this year). He'll still count the full amount against the cap, but the Bucks will pay him the same amount that they're paying Luc Mbah a Moute. Presuming the Bucks do sign Hobson to a two-year minimum deal, the cap situation would look like this.