For Mitch Kupchak, it is sheer benovlence, Bussed in from the West.

Jerry Buss, the owner of the Los Angeles Lakers -- the man with the money, but not the 6-foot-10 free agent (not yet, anyway) -- will tender him an estimated $900,000 per season for seven years in an offer sheet that should be finished this week.

"For his kind of player, he is worth it to us," said Buss. "As far as the Lakers are concerned, we would not pay an Otis Birdsong or a Scott Wedman this kind of money.

"We have a puzzle here and we are missing a piece. Mitch Kupchak is that piece. If I were in Washington, I would not think he would be worth this amount of money.I'd feel the same way if I were in a lot of other towns, too. Mitch is unique to us and we are unique to him," said Buss.

The 48-year-old manof flair, who just gave Earvin (Magic) Johnson $1 million per year for 25 years, added: "We have a very fast offense. With Norm (Nixon), Jamaal (Wilkes) and Magic Johnson moving so quickly down the court, we need a big man who is quick and with good hands. We will not use a starting lineup in the standard sense. We'll play eight men and we'll use a different starting lineup each night. Mitch is the player we need," Buss said.

Once Buss and Larry Fleisher, Kupchak's agent, synchronize their wants, the offer sheet will be mailed to Capital Centre, in care of Bullet owner Abe Pollin, a man of austerity and sensibility.

Last season, Kupchak averaged 12.5 points and 6.9 rebounds per game as a reserve for the Bullets, a team that finished 39-43, 23 games out of first place.

Buss' offer computes to $878.90 per point and $1,581.72 per rebound for Kupchak, based on last year's statistics.

Such are the ways in the NBA in this first year of the right-of-first-refusal free-agent system.

Is Mitch Kupchak -- 27 years old and a five-year reserve in the league -- worth $900,000 per season?

Around the NBA, there is considerable doubt and consternation about such a lucrative offer.

Most people don't feel he is worth it.

"Mitch Kupchak has always had great potential. But, really, what has he done so far?" said Red Auerbach, president and general manager of the Boston Celtics and the man who signed Larry Bird to a contract estimated at $650,000 a year for three years. "I think it is pretty much of a gamble to pay him this much all the way through the time he is 34.

"It's not easy to buy a championship. People have tried before and failed.

I think Abe (Pollin) has handled himself well. He is going up against the eccentricity and ego of some other people," said Auerbach, who has been a part of 14 NBA titles as a Celtic coach and executive.

Auerbach has always been a voice of power and integrity in the NBA, his era spanning from before the titles of Bill Russell and Bob Cousy to this year's championship of Robert Parish and Bird. The Celtic shamrock is not the only green thing Auerbach knows about.

"The money being offered here is just not reasonable," he said. "Each team has different economics. I think all of this will fade down the tube once one of these players (free agents) gets hurt and one of the owners gets burned."

Jeff Cohen is the general manager of the Kansas City Kings, the team that lost Otis Birdsong and Scott Wedman this summer to the megabucks of free-agency. Birdsong will earn $1 million per year from the New Jersey Nets and Wedman will get an estimated $700,000 annually from Ted Stepien and his Cleveland Cavaliers.

"Should Mitch Kupchak be worth a million dollars a year? No. That is just insane," said Cohen, missing the dollar figure, but not the point."No matter how good a player Mitch Kupchak is, look how Washington did with him last year. He alone can't win a championship.

"We have talked to every team in the league and they are all appalled by the amount of money being handed out. It's escalated beyond any form of rationality. I don't see how you can justify the (Kupchak) offer. Maybe you can explain it by saying that the offer is being made so high that no one can match it."

That is an option the Bullets have under the right of first refusal. They could match the Lakers' magnanimous offer and thereby keep Kupchak in Landover. They could also not match the offer and let him go off to Hollywood and Vine with Buss, and thereby gain no compensation.

The Bullets' third option would be to match the offer, sign him and trade Kupchak to a team that would be willing to pick up his new salary. If Pollin can manipulate such a transaction, he would avoid a complete shutout.

Jonathan Kovler, the managing partner of the Chicago Bulls, is displeased with the Kupchak situation, too.

"I find it somewhat surprising that the Lakers would pay so much money for a player who has had two back operations," Kovler said. "There are three teams that have just gone berserk with free-agent spending: the Lakers, between Magic and now this Kupchak thing; New Jersey, by paying for Birdsong, and of course, Cleveland."

Kovler also sees a pragmatic side to this.

"It could make sense for the Lakers. They get about $24 a ticket and maybe they can afford this. They are trying to achieve a unique blend, like the one they had two years ago in their championship year," said Kovler.

"But this could also be a disaster for them. In the old days in this league, a disaster was losing $100,000 a year. Now, you can move the decimal point over one spot and see a million-dollar loss. It doesn't make sense."

What does Kupchak, the man in the middle of the court and the middle of the debate, think of all this?

"I didn't have to negotiate for that money and a lot of teams would have offered it," he said. "The only thing I negotiated for was the length. In seven years I'll be 34 and that will be the time I'll probably want to retire."

Throughout the debate on his future, there has been almost no outcry against Kupchak. He has remained an athlete admired for his hustle and verve by the fans, who see him as an athlete merely getting what he can on the open market.

"I have had pretty positive remarks through this. Most people say it is an offer I can't refuse. No one has said 'Take $2 million less over seven years and stay here,'" said Kupchak, who told Pollin he would accept $100,000 a year less than the Lakers' bid so he could remain a Bullet and near his home in Crofton.

The Bullets are waiting for the offer sheet.

Jerry Buss is waiting for Mitch Kupchak.