The National Basketball Association will hold its collegiate draft today, but the Bullets, without a first-round pick for only the third time in their history, are more excited about some old faces than potential new ones.
General Manager Bob Ferry said for the first time yesterday that guard John Lucas, who said during the past season that he had a problem with cocaine, has just finished an extensive six-week rehabilitation program "and at this time fits into our plans" for next season.
"I've said all along that the player has to take the first step in these type things and John's over step one now," Ferry said. "It's a lifelong thing, though. He has to be dedicated to beating the problem for the rest of his life."
Lucas could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Kevin Porter, whose torn Achilles' tendon during last season's training camp prompted the Bullets to acquire Lucas, is progressing well, according to Ferry. He said he expects Porter and Lucas in training camp next season to compete with Frank Johnson for the play-making guard spot.
Ferry also said that Steve Lingenfelter, from South Dakota State, the third of three second-round Bullet draft choices last season, was brought to town for a workout a couple of weeks ago and was impressive.
"If we can sign him we feel he can help us next year," Ferry said of the 6-foot-9 forward, who played in Italy last year. "He's got excellent quickness, good speed and he's a good leaper. He's got the ability to be a rebounder in this league."
The trading deadline was midnight last night and Ferry, who said he talked to virtually every team in the league, had nothing to announce as the deadline passed.
"We'll just go with the draft," Ferry said.
The Bullets have three second-round selections, the 25th, 41st and 44th picks overall.
The 25th pick, the second pick of the second round, was acquired from San Diego for Steve Malovic. They got the 41st pick from San Antonio for Dave Corzine and the 44th pick from Los Angeles for Mitch Kupchak. They gave their own second-round pick, the 35th selection overall, to Golden State for Lucas.
Ferry said he wanted to add a shooter and a strong rebounder for next season. He may have the rebounder in Lingenfelter and he is hoping the shooter will be in the draft.
Two players who have interested Ferry are Ricky Pierce, a 6-5 shooter from Rice who averaged 26.7 points a game last season, and Terry Teagle, a 6-5 guard/forward from Baylor, who averaged 22.2 points a game.
"I can't be assured of a shot at either of those two guys, but I feel confident we'll get a player who'll help us next year," Ferry said.
The NBA champion Los Angles Lakers, with the first pick in the draft, are expected to select James Worthy, a 6-9 undergraduate eligible from national champion North Carolina. He can play either power forward or small forward, and can also handle the ball well and run the court.
San Diego, which lost a coin flip with Los Angeles for the first pick, will pick second and will probably take either Terry Cummings of De Paul or Dominique Wilkins of Georgia. Both are undergraduate eligibles. The Clippers were set to take Cummings, a good-shooting, strong-rebounding 6-10 power forward, but Wilkins is such an exciting player that they aren't so sure now which one they want.
Jerry West. a special consultant for the Lakers, won't say the Lakers will take Worthy, even though most experts think they will. "All three are great players," West said. "You're going to get an immediate payoff with all of them."
West, too, likes Wilkins, a 6-7 leaper. "He is the one player most people in the league feel has the excitement level of a Julius Erving," he said.
Utah, picking third, will most likely select the player San Diego doesn't take.
Dallas, picking fourth, will probably take Texas center LaSalle Thompson, another undergraduate eligible, or Wyoming forward Bill Garnett.
Kansas City likes Ohio State forward Clark Kellogg, yet another undergraduate eligible. New York, picking sixth, will probably take Garnett if he's available or a guard like San Francisco's Quintin Dailey, another undergraduate eligible.
The draft begins at noon in New York. The public is invited to Capital Centre starting at 11.