As always, Tom McMillen is taking things year by year. If he plays this year for the Washington Bullets, great. If not, then life hardly will come to a screeching halt.

"I haven't made any firm decision," McMillen said yesterday. "My lawyers are talking to the Bullets, and sometime in August, we'll decide." McMillen has had one-year contracts since joining the Bullets in 1983.

Whether or not he plays this coming season for the Bullets, McMillen, a 6-foot-11, 225-pound forward, recently indicated that his long-planned bid for a congressional seat may occur soon.

"We're seriously considering running in '86," McMillen said recently. "So if I play, this would be my last year."

If McMillen, a Democrat who lives in Crofton, does run for Congress, he will be seeking Maryland's fourth district seat, held by Republican Marjorie S. Holt since Jan. 3, 1973.

"We're going to make some final announcement somewhere downstream, but we're in motion to go that way," McMillen said of his political future. "I've been blessed with so many opportunities and challenges, that public service is an opportunity to give something back. And I have a serious interest in where our country is heading and I want to play a part."

Last season, McMillen, 33, played in 69 games, averaging 22.4 minutes, 8.9 points and 3.0 rebounds per game.

"I played a lot of minutes in some games, and not many in others. I was kind of a trouble-shooter, and I liked that," McMillen said. "Gene (Shue) doesn't play people token minutes like some coaches, so when you play you usually get a chance to contribute."

Money, his role on the team, playing time, and his own time off the court all are factors in the discussions with the Bullets. "We're weighing all of those and will make a decision," McMillen said. "But I've played two years with the Bullets, which is a great organization, and if it works out, I'd like to play a third."

"I don't know yet," Bullets General Manager Bob Ferry said when asked whether he thought McMillen would be a Bullet in 1985-86. "We've got to sit down and talk to him."

McMillen said he sees no problem getting worked up for an NBA season while thinking about the possibility of sitting in the House of Representatives.

"I've always been doing it," McMillen said of the juggling act he performs with his business and basketball interests. "I've always done a lot of things besides play. I was going to Oxford and commuting twice a week to play in Italy. I don't subscribe to the idea of athletes being one-dimensional.

"I go from the office to practice and back to the office. Anybody who knows me knows that I give 100 percent, and if I couldn't give 100 percent, I wouldn't play. That's why I take it year to year with the contracts.

"Whether you choose to spend your time playing pinball or shopping or in a business pursuit, it's all delegation and management of your time. And if there was a conflict, the team would be the first to know and they wouldn't re-sign me."