EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The New Jersey Nets fined Micheal Ray Richardson Tuesday for missing Monday's practice and sent him for a drug test on which the fate of his often brilliant but cocaine-plagued career will ride.
Lewis Schaffel, the Nets' executive vice president, said that Richardson, who claimed to have had the flu Monday, was to undergo the drug screening at University Hospital in Newark, N.J. Club officials said that they expected the results to be announced by the National Basketball Assn. today.
"The truth is not in his word," Schaffel said. "It's in the test."
The team fined Richardson an undisclosed amount for missing the practice and a doctor's appointment Monday, just three weeks after he had been reinstated following 15 days in a California drug rehabilitation center.
If the test turns up positive for the presence of drugs, it will be a third offense for Richardson. According to NBA policy, three-time offenders are banned from the league for life, although they have the option of appealing after two years.
Richardson, 30, had been hospitalized for drug rehabilitation twice since the league began its current drug policy. He also had drug problems before the policy was adopted.
"I'm not sure how I'll respond if it's positive," Schaffel said. "I'll wait until it's time to make a statement."
Richardson signed a four-year, $3-million contract before the season began. He leads the Nets in scoring with a 16.3 average and in assists with 7.5 in the 40 games he has played.
Richardson would not comment on the amount of the fine. He admitted he had made an error in not phoning team officials after failing to keep an appointment with Dr. Dennis Quinlan, the team physician.
"I didn't call, it's just the way I do things," Richardson said. "I've got to change that way. I have to start giving people phone calls."
Richardson said he spent all day Monday at home in bed, taking care of himself because he had the flu.
Richardson arrived on time for the Nets' shoot-around at 10 a.m. Tuesday but did not take the court. He first spoke with Coach Dave Wohl, then with Schaffel.
Schaffel announced after the meeting that Richardson had been fined for missing the practice and for failing to meet with Quinlan. Team policy calls for any player missing practice because of illness to see the doctor.
Quinlan also has been conducting weekly urinalyses on Richardson as part of his after-care treatment for cocaine dependency.
Wohl, whose team has lost 9 of its last 15 games, said he was happy that Richardson reported for the shoot-around. But he was obviously annoyed by the incident.
"This is really the third or fourth time it's happened, missing games, practices, etc.," Wohl said. "How reliable can he be? If I make him a starter--the problem is if he can't lick the problem--this could happen two or three weeks down the road.
"Then the team goes through another adjustment period. As a coach, I have to think of this."