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