- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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DALLAS -- A strained right calf will sideline Dallas Mavericks center Chris Kaman for Tuesday night's season opener, meaning Eddy Curry likely will start against Dwight Howard and the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Mavs claimed Curry off waivers Thursday and started him at center for Friday's preseason finale, when he had 11 points, seven rebounds and three blocks in 25 minutes. The fourth overall pick in the 2001 draft has played a total of only 24 games in the past four seasons due to weight problems and other issues, but he reported to Dallas in relatively good shape after spending training camp with the San Antonio Spurs.
"I definitely got thrown into the fire," Curry said. "But growing up, this is what you dream about, playing in this league. I've got another opportunity, and I'm going to make the best of it."
The Mavs will need to make a roster move to make room for Curry by Monday's 5 p.m. ET deadline to trim rosters to 15 players. The Mavs are also exploring possibilities for backup point guards, a need even before rookie first-round pick Jared Cunningham sprained his thumb during Monday's practice.
The Mavs acquired Curry because of a glaring need for size with 7-footers Dirk Nowitzki and Kaman dealing with medical issues.
Nowitzki, an 11-time All-Star power forward, will miss at least the first two weeks of the regular season while recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. Kaman, who signed a one-year, $8 million deal with the Mavs this offseason, has been sidelined for more than two weeks by the strained calf.
Coach Rick Carlisle, who wasn't certain whether Kaman would join the Mavs for their two-game road trip, is intrigued by Curry's offensive ability. The 7-0, 295-pounder has averaged 13.0 points on 54.5 percent shooting in his career.
The Mavs have given Curry, who admittedly has never been considered a good defender, a crash course on what they expect from their centers defensively.
"He's learning a lot in a short period of time, on the one hand," said Carlisle, who declined to confirm if Curry would start against the Lakers. "On the other hand, he's a big guy who plays with a lot of force in the paint when he gets the ball. That's something anybody can use. His opportunity is going to continue here."
6hSteve Ilardi and Jeremias Engelmann