Rockets: Why Rasheed Wallace once avoided playing for John Lucas

Assistant coach of the Houston Rockets John Lucas (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Assistant coach of the Houston Rockets John Lucas (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

Former NBA champion Rasheed Wallace once avoided playing for longtime Houston Rockets assistant coach John Lucas.

Houston Rockets assistant coach John Lucas has been with the franchise in several roles, as he spent five seasons playing for the franchise and four seasons as a personnel member. Lucas spent six seasons as a head coach, as he landed his first head coaching job at the age of 39-years-old, which is impressive, to say the least.

Lucas spent his first two seasons coaching the San Antonio Spurs, and he achieved immediate success, posting a 94-49 record with the Spurs, which culminated in a fifth-place finish and a fourth-place finish. Lucas resigned as the Spurs coach at the end of the 1993-94 season and was hired as the Philadelphia 76ers coach within a week after leaving the Spurs.

Lucas struggled in his first season coaching the Sixers, as they went 24-58, which resulted in the Sixers landing the third overall pick in the 1995 NBA Draft. The 76ers ultimately selected North Carolina’s Jerry Stackhouse with the pick, but they were ultimately forced to make the pick and Stackhouse’s teammate Rasheed Wallace made it known that he didn’t want to go to the Sixers.

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Wallace explained his rationale on the Knuckleheads podcast, which is sponsored by The Player’s Tribune.

“At first the Sixers wanted me. That’s when the old-head John Lucas was coaching. I said ‘nah, don’t pick me. I don’t want to go there’. At that time I couldn’t deal with that pressure, so I told my agent to tell them not to draft me.”

Wallace stated that he didn’t want to go to Lucas’ Sixers, as he felt it would have been too much to take on with Philadelphia being his hometown. So he told his agent to notify the Sixers that he wasn’t interested in playing there and that he would have been unhappy if he were drafted there.

The Sixers posted an 18-64 record during the 1995-96 season, which led to Lucas getting fired from then Sixers owner Comcast Spectacor, as Lucas held the dual role of head coach and general manager. Lucas spent the next three seasons as an assistant coach with the Denver Nuggets before becoming the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2001, posting a 29-53 record, followed by an 8-34 record, which led to him getting fired.

Lucas has been rumored to be an emerging candidate for the Houston Rockets head coaching vacancy, and rightfully so, as he holds relationships with the players, which has been made easy due to the fact that he spent 14 seasons playing in the NBA.

Lucas is expected to get the final interview with the Rockets, as it’ll be much easier to arrange an interview with the 66-year-old considering that he’s the lone in-house candidate.

Rockets GM Daryl Morey’s interest in Lucas is justified, as he’s a holdover from Mike D’Antoni’s staff, and reports suggest that the Rockets are seeking a D’Antoni clone.

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We’ll have to see what happens in the coaching search, but the fact that Lucas will have the final chance to make an impression could make all the difference for the long-time coach.