The Seattle SuperSonics almost acquired Milwaukee Bucks guard John Lucas in a swap for Sam Vincent, but Bucks Coach Del Harris said the league office nullified the deal yesterday because of rules covering the total salaries paid by NBA teams.

As explained by the Milwaukee Sentinel:

The Bucks are over the salary cap, so they can't trade for a player making more money than the player traded away. However, the rules also permit teams to exceed the cap in order to retain their own free agents, and that's what the Bucks did when they signed Lucas just before the season. Though Vincent's annual salary was said to be less than Lucas' $575,000, the salary limit in Lucas' case reverted back to the minimum $75,000 he was paid by the Bucks as a free agent last season.

Harris said the trade talk did not mean the Bucks were unhappy with Lucas.

"We have the highest regard for John Lucas for what he's doing both on and off the court," Harris said. "But the facts are we do have an older team and we're loaded at the guard positions . . . So that makes it difficult to work in the amount of minutes John deserves relative to his ability."

Lucas said he took the offer as a compliment and the news as a part of the business.

Seattle Coach Bernie Bickerstaff said he, too, had high regard for Lucas, a Bullet during 1981-83, when Bickerstaff was a Washington assistant. Lucas has come back from drug problems to lead programs promoting an alcohol- and drug-free life style.