Hardaway feels he can help Heat

MIAMI -- Penny Hardaway insists that he's interesting in coming back to the NBA in general, and the Miami Heat in particular.

When trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh joined forces to play on the Heat, Hardaway -- who hasn't played in the NBA since 2007 with the Heat -- said he got the itch to return.

"I'm just throwing my name in the hat," Hardaway said on ESPN's Outside The Lines. "I'm just one to put my name out there and say, hey, I would love to be one of the guys to be on that team."

Hardaway last played in 2007 with the Heat. He played in 16 games that season, averaging 20 minutes and 3.8 points.

"I just really hope that they give me a great opportunity to come back down and show that I can do the things that I did a couple years ago," he said on Outside the Lines.

Thursday, on an online radio program he co-hosts, he said after the signings of James and Bosh, and Wade's return, "I felt like I could really be good in that system."

Balky knees helped force Hardaway into retirement, but he says he's feeling better, working out and playing five days a week. And he stressed to OTL that he's not talking about major minutes. Hardaway turns 39 this weekend.

"I felt like with a minimal role of what they're trying to fill, a very small piece in a big puzzle, it doesn't really matter your age," he said. "If you can have a good influence on the team, whether it be in the locker room or on the floor, I feel like I can do that, that's why I really want to go back because I really feel like I can help that team."

Hardaway played in the NBA Finals in 1995, when he teamed with Shaquille O'Neal on the Orlando Magic. He missed the entire 1997-98 season with a knee injury, but came back and was a four-time All-Star in the late 1990s.

Hardaway said he's texted Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and former teammate Alonzo Mourning, but admitted he hasn't talked to Heat president Pat Riley. But he did say he's serious about another comeback.

"I'm not trying to relive anything," he said. "... I keep myself in shape, I love the game of basketball and I really feel like it doesn't matter about your age."