A man whose basketball career appeared on the rocks less than a year ago, John Lucas has become a man in demand again in the NBA.

Free-agent guard Lucas, No. 1 draft pick of the Houston Rockets (and the entire NBA) out of Maryland in 1976 and a former Washington Bullet, yesterday signed a three-year offer sheet to rejoin the Rockets. The San Antonio Spurs have 15 days to match the proposal, believed to call for $200,000 for the first two years; no guarantee for the third year.

After shaking off personal problems, Lucas joined the Spurs during the past season and ended fourth in the NBA with 10.7 assists a game. San Antonio is loaded now at point guard with Johnny Moore, John Paxson and rookie Alvin Robertson.

"In the old days, Lucas got the ball to Moses Malone," Rockets General Manager Ray Patterson said. "Now he's looking forward to getting the ball to Ralph Sampson and Akeem Olajuwon" . . .

The Atlanta Hawks have signed forward Antoine Carr, who played last season in Italy, to a multiyear contract, having acquired him with his Wichita State teammate, Cliff Levingston, in the June deal with Detroit for Dan Roundfield.