David Thompson, the NBA's highest-paid player when Nugget didn't even spell $800 an ounce, has joined his successor as basketball's money champ, Bill Wallace, as a paid nonearner, and what price glory?

And now, Thompson sits down, like Walton, and who was that fella who used to lead the league in scoring and salary? Oh yeah, Pete Maravich . . .

Pistol Pete -- waived yesterday by the Utah Jazz. They benched him 28 games ago as a misfit and now turn him loose at age 31 with a $1.8 million, installment-plan settlement on his remaining 2 1/2 years of contract . . .

The formerly formidable Denver club, stumbling with a 16-33 record, got the word yesterday that its former N.C. State whiz must have his injured left foot placed in a cast and will be sidelined at least three more weeks.

Hampered by injuries most of the season, Thompson has missed seven of the last 12 games; sprained ligaments is the diagnosis. Extra tough on the Nuggets, he had regained his form those last five games he did play, averaging 30.6 points.

In so doing, Thompson had learned to cope, evidently, with life in the free-throw lane, about which he complained in December, "When I go to the basket I don't think I get fair treatment from the refs. I get hit a lot and I don't go to the free-throw line."