NBA Special Master Kingman Brewster has ruled that a free agent offer sheet tendered to Albert King of the New Jersey Nets is legal under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, the league announced yesterday.

The Nets have until Friday to match the New York Knicks' offer to King, who averaged 14.4 points a game last year. If he does join New York, Albert would become a teammate of his brother Bernard, the league's defending scoring champion. However, a Nets spokesman said yesterday that the team's ownership has decided to match the offer.

The Nets could match the offer, then trade King to the Knicks or any other club.

The Knicks, bound by the NBA's $4.2 million salary cap, had been trying to figure out a way to make a meaningful bid for King, the former Maryland star, and still be legal. Brewster's ruling means they succeeded, at least legally. According to reports, the Knicks' offer sheet includes a $950,000 signing bonus, with salaries of $75,000, $75,000, $500,000, $650,000 and $750,000, making a total package of $3 million over five years.

According to the Associated Press, Brewster, an attorney based in London, made his decision after meeting in England with Dave DeBusschere, the Knicks' executive vice-president; Gary Bettman, the general counsel for the NBA, lawyers for both sides and two representatives from the NBA Players' Association.

There was a time when Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics was known for arriving at Boston Garden and other NBA arenas hours before his teammates in order to practice his already impeccable shooting. This season, the two-time most valuable player still is an early bird but now the reasons are mainly medicinal. Bothered by a bruise in his lower back, Bird says it takes a little longer to make the magic happen.

"It takes me two or three times longer to do the things I was doin' from the start last year," he says, explaining his series of pregame stretches. "Even now, though I feel 500 times better than I did at the start of the year."

By now a nationwide audience has seen the tapes of Bird running off the court with back pains during a Celtics' practice. The sight has led to talk that the injury, which Bird first noticed during the summer, will force the forward to miss part of the season. Bird denies the talk.

"I'm gonna play through this," he says. "It's only a bruise and the doctors tell me that when it goes away I'll be able to do everything just like it never happened."

Hot on the heels of the month-long tour across the United States by the Chinese National basketball team, the fertile mind of NBA Commissioner David Stern is beginning to lay the groundwork for what tentatively is being called the Summit Games.

According to Stern, the tournament would match the NBA champions, an NCAA all-star team and two representatives from overseas.

"It would be great if something could happen after next season, but it's only in the planning stages right now," he said. "I think it would be a great idea though, don't you?"

For the first time in the history of fan voting, five members of the Washington Bullets are listed on the ballot for the 1986 NBA All-Star Game, to be played Feb. 9 in Dallas. Each member of the lineup that opened last Saturday's game against Boston -- Dan Roundfield, Cliff Robinson, Jeff Ruland, Jeff Malone and Gus Williams -- is on the ballot. Boston and Philadelphia are the only other teams in the league with five players listed.

Balloting began Nov. 1 and will continue through Jan. 16 at NBA arenas. There are 96 players listed, 48 from each conference, including four rookies; Patrick Ewing of New York, Wayman Tisdale of Indiana, Xavier McDaniel of Seattle and Chris Mullin, who played at St. John's but has yet to sign with the Golden State Warriors. He was the seventh pick in last June's draft.

Although he only joined the Chicago Bulls this season, there are stories circulating already about 61-year-old assistant coach Tex Winter.

One story has head coach Stan Albeck explaining the rule giving participants one 20-second timeout per half, to which Winter replied, "So those last about a minute each, right?"

Another tale has Winter explaining why he might be absent at the end of Bulls games, particularly on the West Coast. Says Winter, "My bedtime is 10 o'clock."

The Phoenix Suns waived two players and activated two others.

Waived were 6-foot-7 swing man Devin Durrant and 6-4 guard Michael Holton. The Suns activated 6-1 guard Rod Foster, who had been on the injured list, and 6-8 Bulgarian forward Georgi Glouchkov, who was on the suspended list.

Foster injured his knee during preseason workouts and Glouchkov, who was signed last month, arrived in Phoenix from Bulgaria last week.