Lucas not play Summber League for Rockets

By JONATHAN FEIGEN (Houston Chronicle)
Updated: 2007-07-11 23:48

Summer league has been good to John Lucas III.

For a week last summer, he was a star. He had the ball in his hands, all the shots he could want, and soon, a three-year contract with the Rockets, the team for which his father had starred and he had been a ball boy.

The Rockets wanted him to reprise last summer's performance, particularly with a new coaching staff and offense to learn. Lucas, however, preferring to stick to his training routine, decided to go another way. And with the Rockets seemingly overloaded at his position, he sounds ready to keep going.

Looking elsewhere

"I want to go somewhere I'll have the opportunity and a shot to play," Lucas said. "We have a lot of point guards: Mike James, Rafer Alston, myself and Aaron (Brooks). That's a lot of competition. I don't mind competition. I'm looking forward to next year. I'm looking forward to playing. If they move me, I'll go to another team and contribute any way I can.

"We're talking to try to see what's best for me. It is a business. I want to play. Last year, I was miserable. It's a situation I had never been in. I never stayed on the bench before. I don't want to go through anything like last year. I'm waiting for my chance. I just want to play. That's my whole thing."

Asked if he had requested a trade or to be waived (which, unless he were picked up, would require the Rockets to pay him the $770,610 guaranteed on his contract), Lucas said: "I just want to play.

"I don't know what's going on. Right now, I'm a Houston Rocket. They deal with my agent. I have to take care of what I have to do on the court. I have not taken a day off since the season ended. When we lost Game 7 (to the Utah Jazz), I went to work the next day and have been in the gym every day since."

Because he has lived in the gym so long, Lucas chose not to leave it to start over in another gym. The Rockets, however, wanted to have him work with their coaches, and when they announced their summer league team, he was on it.

"The communication wasn't very good," general manager Daryl Morey said. "David (Falk, Lucas' agent) probably thinks I dropped the ball. We spoke about him spending a week in summer league.

"He said he thought it wasn't a good idea. I said I thought it was. We got up to that point (the team was announced). We can't reach John. David calls the day before (summer practices began) and said, 'He's out.'

"I guess when he said he didn't think it was a good idea, that meant he wasn't coming."

Lucas, as a third-year player, had the option to play or not play in summer league. The Rockets could have demanded that Vassilis Spanoulis, a rookie last season, play, but chose not to take that step. But because two of their young point guards are not participating, they added one Tuesday.

With Spanoulis out, the Rockets brought in Luis Flores, the player they drafted to trade for Spanoulis during the second round of 2004.

Improving at home

Lucas hoped by sitting out the summer league, he would improve as much as when he played in it.

"You usually only play two years of summer league," Lucas said. "You play if you're not on a team or trying to make another team. I'm under contract for two years, a year guaranteed. I feel, individually, I need to get stronger and get better.

"I can fit in any system. I'm a quick learner. I can fit in in a day.

"Playing every day against NBA players like T.J. Ford, Earl Watson, Steve Francis and Damon Stoudamire, working with Sam Cassell, to me I feel will make me better."

Whether that will be with the Rockets remains to be seen.

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