Mired in a 2-6 start and plagued by numerous health issues, Washington targeted Boykins to help them get through an injury crisis that has felled Randy Foye (ankle), Javaris Crittenton (foot) and Mike James (hand) in the backcourt alone.
Washington waived forward/center Paul Davis to make roster room for Boykins, who will be reunited with Wizards mainstays Gilbert Arenas and Antawn Jamison after they played together with the Golden State Warriors earlier this decade.
Jamison and swingman Mike Miller are also out of the Wizards' lineup thanks to shoulder injuries. And Arenas -- still recovering from three surgeries on the same knee that have wiped out most of his past two seasons -- strongly considered skipping Washington's loss Tuesday in Miami because of recent calf soreness before deciding to play at the last minute.
"Earl is a proven veteran point guard who will provide us with leadership and stability off of the bench," said Ernie Grunfeld, Wizards president of basketball operations.
Boykins, 33, has been eager to return to the NBA after spending last season in Europe playing for Virtus Bologna in Italy's top division. The 5-foot-5 speedster averaged nearly 15 points a game last season in Italy and will be joining his ninth NBA team.
One of Boykins' better games last season occurred with Grunfeld in Italy scouting Milwaukee Bucks rookie guard Brandon Jennings. Against Jennings' Lottomatica Roma team, Boykins had 24 points and 11 assists.
Mark Termini, Boykins' Cleveland-based agent, said Wednesday night that this is "an opportunity for Earl to bring energy and experience to a team that should be a playoff factor by the end of the season."
Boykins has averaged 9.4 points and 3.4 assists in 520 games over 10 NBA seasons. He's the second-shortest player in league history behind only 5-foor-3 Muggsy Bogues, who was drafted by Washington in 1987 and played one season for the then-Bullets in a 14-year career.
Boykins last appeared in an NBA game with Charlotte during the second half of the 2007-08 season, averaging just 5.1 points in 36 games and shooting less than 40 percent from the floor (.355) for the first time since he established himself as a full-time NBA player with the Los Angeles Clippers in 2001-02.
But 2006-07 was his best offensive season, when Boykins played in 66 games for Denver and Milwaukee, averaging 14.6 points and 4.4 assists and shooting 89.8 percent from the line.
Davis averaged 2.5 points and 1.5 assists in the two games he played for the Wizards this season.
Marc Stein is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com.