Beleaguered Golden State guard and former Maryland star John Lucas said today that all of his recent problems have been worked out, declaring, "All I want to do now is play basketball."
It appeared last week that the Warriors were ready to give up on Lucas. Uncharacteristically, Lucas had repeatedly missed games and practices, giving vague explanations. He was told not to accompany the team on its last road trip prior to the All-Star Game, but Coach Al Attles reinstated Lucas Monday. He played three minutes in the Warriors' 115-100 home-court victory over Portland Wednesday, and was booed by the crowd of 10,465 at the Oakland Coliseum Arena.
The National Basketball Association trading deadline is Feb. 15, and the Warriors have talked to several teams about Lucas. The Bullets are one of them. Lucas' attorney, David Falk of Washington said: "There have been serious talks" between the Bullets and Warriors about Lucas. Bullet General Manager Bob Ferry said he's always liked Lucas, "But the way Kevin Porter has been playing for us, there's no need for him."
Lucas will be a free agent at the end of this season.
Lucas is eager to put all these troubles behind him. "I've got something to prove," he said. "There's nothing I can't do if I set my mind to it. I'm geared up."
Ironically, it is the Bullets who will face the Warriors Friday night at the Coliseum here (WDCA-TV-20 at 11).
"I think Washington would be an outstanding place for John," said Falk.
Lucas said he wouldn't mind playing for the Bullets, but, like Ferry, doubted he'd end up there because of Porter.
Attles said he prefers to keep Lucas, if possible.
"He is back on the team and will try to resolve the situation," Attles said. "He's moved down and he's going to have to work his way back up. He's going to have to learn to play without the ball and it's just a matter of if he can do it or not."
Lucas says he can.
"I always felt I was one of the best guards in the league and I plan to prove it. Working my way back up can take one game or it can take a week. It all depends.
"I know I'm not going to score as much or get as many assists as I did in the past. My role on the team isn't to pile up either one of those. It's to give stabilization."
Lucas' troubles started before this season, the day the Warriors traded Phil Smith to San Diego for Lloyd Free. Free and Lucas simply do not play well together because both need the ball to be effective.
"The problem is that John has never really had a taste of adversity from junior high school until now," said Falk. "He's always been the star, and now, all of a sudden, they bring in Lloyd Free. He's a crowd-pleaser and a scorer who controls the ball. John likes Lloyd and thinks he's a great talent, but the chemistry on the court between them just isn't right.
"Rightly or wrongly, John felt his role had changed, and he didn't like it, and reacted in a negative way. I feel certain what happened in the past with John won't happen again but there were some very subtle mistakes in judgment on both sides."
Lucas said he prefers not to talk about the reasons behind his behavior other than to say: "All things are done with purposes. I made my bed and I can lie in it."
Lucas has regained the sparkle in his eye and said: "I just want to play basketball. You'll hear from me again. Don't worry about that. If I stay here I'm going to pick us up and if I move on, whichever team I go to, I'll pick them up too."