MIAMI - Although he has yet to even put on a game uniform this season, center Eddy Curry has already been worth his weight in one area for the Heat: Entertainment value.
On Thursday night, Curry might just finally start to become a much-needed, productive load on the court. The veteran center was in a joking mood when he spoke with reporters after Thursday's shootaround in preparation for the Heat's game against the visiting Los Angeles Lakers.
But Curry was all business when he talked about the impact he expects to have whenever he's activated by the Heat. After losing significant weight, improving his condition and recovering from a training camp hip injury, Curry offered his official pitch Thursday to make his season debut against the Lakers.
"I submitted a letter of recommendation," a smiling Curry said when asked if he approached coach Erik Spoelstra about playing. "I'm looking forward to the opportunity to be activated tonight. I'm just trying to get a uniform right now. I ain't talking about minutes (expected playing time)."
Curry might finally be granted his wish out of necessity. An undersized Heat team faces one of the league's biggest frontcourts in the Lakers' tandem of 7-footers Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. Miami will be without star shooting guard Dwyane Wade (ankle), and forward LeBron James (flu) is considered questionable after he was sent home from the team's morning shootaround for treatment and rest.
The same bug that affected James the past few days also forced reserve center Dexter Pittman to spend time away from the team recently to recover. Pittman was not with the team for Tuesday's game against San Antonio, but did practice Wednesday and should be available against the Lakers.
Spoelstra reiterated Thursday he hasn't decided whether to activate Curry against the Lakers or possibly wait for the weekend games Saturday against Philadelphia and Sunday against Milwaukee.
For Curry, it's been a long journey back to the cusp of playing an actual NBA game. A combination of conditioning issues, injuries and philosophical differences with previous coaching staffs limited Curry to just 10 games over the past three seasons. He hasn't played since 2009 when he was with the New York Knicks.
Now noticeably trimmer and healthy, Curry is hungry for a shot to help the Heat. He spent extra time working out with assistant coaches the past few days after practice and declared himself ready if needed.
"I was just trying to put my body through what they were going through," Curry said of the post-practice conditioning sessions. "No setbacks. So that was a positive thing."