John Lucas, who was waived by the Washington Bullets Tuesday after missing yet another practice, will lose approximately $270,000 in guaranteed contract and endorsement money.
It has been learned that Lucas was on the second year of a five-year, $300,000-a-year contract, which was guaranteed through this season, with $100,000 of it guaranteed next year.
There was a clause in his contract that gave the Bullets the right to terminate it if Lucas' erratic off-court behavior, such as missing practices and games, continued. The Bullets said today his contract would be terminated after the 48-hour waiver period that began Tuesday afternoon.
That means Lucas will lose about $150,000 this year, $100,000 next year and a shoe contract with Nike believed to be worth $20,000. If he had made the team each of the next four years, he would have earned $1.2 million.
Most of Lucas' teammates said today they were shocked when they found out the Bullets had waived Lucas after he missed practice for the third time this season. Most also sensed Lucas' eventual dismissal was only a matter of time.
"I was shocked by the abruptness of it all," said guard Kevin Grevey. "It wasn't like he wasn't forewarned, though. He didn't fulfill his obligations to the team, so . . .
"Luke is a friend of mine, so this is hard. He had a lot of spirit, he was fun and we'll miss him, but most important is John himself. He has to get a grip on his life somehow. I hope he does."
Bullets captain Greg Ballard said Lucas "kept us loose, even during the nine-game losing streak. It's always unfortunate when you lose a colorful person like John because he had the kind of personality you liked to have around. It's just unfortunate his personal life hurt him. I personally feel badly more for his wife and two little children than I do for John because it's going to hurt them more than it is him."
Lucas, 29, a former all-America at Maryland, missed two games and three practices last season. He said a problem with cocaine was the reason, and went through a six-week rehabilitation program in the offseason.
Things progressed smoothly this season until Lucas missed practice Nov. 30, again Dec. 11 and for the last time Tuesday. When he was released, the Bullets isssued a short, terse statement: "The reasons for this action were a series of unexcused and unexplained absences from practice."
Said Spencer Haywood: "It's sad. It makes you wonder. Maybe I could have paid more attention to him and maybe I could have helped more. We all feel badly for him, but we have to go on. It's history. We still have a job to do."
Lucas' best friend on the team, Don Collins, who is on the injured list with a stress fracture in his left foot, said he tried to help Lucas as much as he could. "I talked to him a lot about all the chances both of us had been given, but I warned him they would end soon. Fortunately, I got myself together, but I guess he couldn't.
"He was down and depresssed a lot because he wanted to play more than he was, and I tried to keep his spirits up. It was hard for him to accept that he wasn't playing much. I feel he let himself down because he knew this would happen. I know this is tough for him. I love him and it's devastating to me, but he brought it on himself and he has nobody to blame but John Lucas."
The Bullets will play the Seattle SuperSonics Thursday night at Capital Centre at 8:10 . . . Collins is expected to start working out with the team Monday.