After failing to trade either John Lucas or Kevin Porter, the Washington Bullets reluctantly waived Porter yesterday. They also cut swing men Carlos Terry and Garry Witts and put guard Kevin Grevey on the injured reserve list to get to the National Basketball Association's 12-player limit.

The Bullets open the season tonight in Indianapolis against the Indiana Pacers (WDCA-TV-20, 8:30).

"We just couldn't get anything going in terms of a trade," said General Manager Bob Ferry. "I tried as long as I could."

The deadline to get to the 12-player limit was 6 p.m., and Ferry said he was on the telephone right up until then--unsuccessfully.

"We knew all along we couldn't keep both of them (Porter and Lucas) and we were just hoping to be able to make a deal," he said. "They were both coming off years where they had some problems, though, and people around the league realized I wasn't dealing from strength and that I would have to let someone go."

Lucas, 28, was troubled by a problem with cocaine last season. Porter, 32, missed the entire season with a ruptured Achilles' tendon.

Both point guards played well in training camp, but neither was overly impressive. The decision to keep Lucas was influenced heavily by the fact that he has a guaranteed contract this season.

He has one guaranteed year left on a five-year, $300,000-a-year contract he signed before the start of last season. Porter is in the third year of a five-year contract believed to be valued at approximately $200,000 a year. It also is believed only half is guaranteed. By keeping Lucas instead of Porter, the Bullets apparently saved $200,000.

"The contract situation was a problem all along," said Ferry.

Porter was drafted by the Bullets in 1972 in the third round. He played with the Bullets during the 1974-75 season, when they advanced to the NBA final against Golden State; that year, he set the team record for assists in a season (650) and assists average (8.0).

He was traded to Detroit for Dave Bing before the 1975-76 season, and later played for the New Jersey Nets before rejoining the Pistons. He was signed by the Bullets as a free agent July 12, 1979, and averaged 7.3 and 13.4 points before injuring his Achilles' tendon in training camp last year.

Witts, 6-foot-7, and Terry, 6-5, were the 11th and 12th men last season, but lost their jobs to 6-9 Steve Lingenfelter and 6-10 Dave Batton, both rookies.

Lingenfelter, a second-round draft choice of the Bullets in 1981 who played in Italy last season, has a guaranteed contract. Batton, who has three years' experience in Europe, played well in preseason.

"Batton is more of a center and we might get into foul trouble, so we decided to keep the extra body there," said Coach Gene Shue. "We aren't suggesting he's any more than a backup, but he did have a good camp.

"We have both (Billy Ray) Bates and (Don) Collins at the off-guard spot and Greg (Ballard) and Charles Davis at small forward. That left Garry and Carlos out."

Terry averaged one point a game in 13 appearances last year; Witts averaged 2.9 points in 46 games.

Terry, signed as a free agent three seasons ago, missed more than a year with a serious knee injury. He was one of the most popular Bullets, both with teammates and the fans, and a number of players were surprised he was released.

"I never thought it would happen," said one, "because Carlos is so good for the team, even if he isn't playing. He keeps everybody loose. But I guess they (management) felt there wasn't room for him."

"Carlos really did help us in his relationship with the rest of the players," said Shue, "but we just couldn't keep him."

"Garry helped us whenever he got the chance. He always did something productive. He worked hard and was dedicated, but there just wasn't room for him."

Grevey missed training camp with a torn abdominal muscle. By being on the injured list, he will have to miss at least five games, but could stay on the list the entire season.

Shue and Ferry said they might make other changes with the team, especially if Grevey is able to play. It is unlikely they will keep Collins and Bates the entire season.

"We'll see how that goes," said Ferry. "Unless you're the Los Angeles Lakers, everyone is talking about moves now."

Rookie guard Bryan Warrick worked out yesterday for the first time since pulling a groin muscle Monday and showed no effects of the injury, but Shue said Collins probably would start in his place against the Pacers. "It's tough for a rookie to miss three days of practice right before the first game," said Shue . . . Davis, out more than a week with strained knee ligaments, also returned to full workouts yesterday. Spencer Haywood, with a strained calf muscle, didn't practice, but is expected to start tonight . . .The Pacers' regular starting guards, Johnny Davis and Don Buse, are unsigned free agents and they traded forward Louis Orr to the Knicks for a second-round draft choice when they couldn't re-sign him. Their starters tonight are expected to be Herb Williams at center, Jerry Sichting and Billy Knight at guards and George Johnson and rookie Clark Kellogg at forwards. Kellogg, from Ohio State, averaged more than 20 points and 10 rebounds a game in the preseason.