John (Hot Rod) Williams of Tulane will have to be cleared by Commissioner David Stern to play in the National Basketball Association, a league spokesman said.

The spokesman said a memo had been circulated to all NBA clubs, informing them that Stern would have to rule on whether Williams can play in the NBA if one of its clubs drafts him. Williams was indicted April 4 in New Orleans on two counts of sports bribery and three counts of conspiracy to commit sports bribery . . .

Dick McGuire, the New York Knicks' director of scouting, said the team is not likely to trade center Bill Cartwright, despite the club's plan to select all-America Patrick Ewing in Tuesday's NBA draft.

The Sacramento Kings have talked to the Knicks about acquiring Cartwright, perhaps for St. John's all-America Chris Mullin. The Kings should be able to draft Mullin with their sixth pick overall in the draft . . .

Tickets to Tuesday's NBA draft were gone within an hour after they were made available for free at Ticket World outlets yesterday, the league announced. An NBA spokesperson said more than 2,000 tickets were handed out for the draft, which will be held at the Felt Forum in Madison Square Garden. This is the first year the league has given out tickets before the day of the draft . . .

Larry Bird, his advisers and the management of the Boston Celtics have decided to let his elbow rest during the offseason to see if that will cure a lingering, but undiagnosed, ailment. Bird had elbow trouble during the closing games of the regular season and during the playoffs. Tentative medical opinion is that the problem is either tendinitis or bone chips . . .

Jerry Krause, the Chicago Bulls' vice president for operations, said the Bulls and the New Jersey Nets have agreed on compensation if Nets Coach Stan Albeck decides to take the Bulls' head-coaching position.

The Bulls would pay New Jersey $100,000, the remainder of compensation the Nets owe San Antonio for Albeck's leaving the Spurs and going to New Jersey in 1983. "There would be no players and no draft picks involved," Krause said. "Of course, we would also pick up the last year of Albeck's contract." Albeck is paid $250,000 a year by the Nets . . .

Meanwhile, Rollie Massimino, head coach of NCAA-champion Villanova, has been interviewed twice by the Nets about coaching the team if Albeck leaves, the New York Post reported . . .

Los Angeles Clippers center Bill Walton is exercising his option to become a free agent, the Los Angeles Herald Examiner reported. Walton filed for free agency June 1 and has until the end of July to consider offers from the other 22 NBA teams, a spokesman for the Clippers said.