Knicks saving Kenyon Martin for regular season

Kenyon Martin of the New York Knicks reacts

Kenyon Martin of the New York Knicks reacts against the Indiana Pacers during Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. (May 16, 2013) (Credit: Getty)

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- As the Knicks ran up and down during a scrimmage Saturday, Kenyon Martin watched from a folding chair. He doesn't plan to be in that position when the real games start.

The Knicks said Martin isn't injured. They're just holding him back to preserve him for the regular season.

Martin, 35, said that when he re-signed with the Knicks, they discussed "the plan" of limiting his reps now. He said he's "cool with it." He also said he wanted to scrimmage Saturday but Mike Woodson said no.

"I understand it," Martin said. "If I was a younger guy, it probably would be harder for me to understand it. I've been on a lot of teams where they didn't think about it. They threw guys out there in training camp, like the older guys and what not, and it had an effect later on in the season. We're playing for a bigger goal than the preseason. We're playing for a championship and I want to be a part of that."

Martin, the second-oldest Knick behind Pablo Prigioni, has battled injuries throughout his 13-year career. The Knicks signed him in February after their front line was decimated by injuries and he played heavy minutes right away. Martin averaged 7.2 points and 5.3 rebounds in 18 games but eventually broke down, missing seven of the last eight games with an ankle injury.

Martin figures to be a valuable player again for the Knicks. His toughness, defense and ability to guard multiple positions were welcome additions last season and the reasons he was brought back, and the Knicks are trying to protect their investment.

"I'm not going to burn him like I did last year," Woodson said. "I probably played him too much. He ended up breaking down somewhat toward the latter part with his ankle. This year I've got to be cautious."

Martin hasn't been involved in much of the practice open to the media but said he's been doing all the running and conditioning work. He was on the court late in practice Saturday when the Knicks went through multiple five-on-five half-court drills. Tyson Chandler also has been held out of part of practice but participated in the scrimmage.

Martin said if the Knicks had a game Sunday, he would be able to play. He also said he will play in the preseason but is not sure which games or how many. Woodson probably will keep each of his veterans out for at least a game in the preseason.

"I'm healthy," Martin said. "I'm fine. Moving well, cutting well, jumping well. I dunked the ball pretty good [Friday] and Woody tried to kick me out of the gym."

Martin, who helped the Nets reach back-to-back NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003, said he likes this team's depth and thinks it has the ability to be one of the top five defenses in the league. With Martin, Chandler, Metta World Peace and Iman Shumpert, the Knicks have impact players on defense.

"I think we can guard and we can switch a lot at different positions," Martin said. "We've got guys that guard multiple positions. All it's going to take is the terminology and coming out and giving that effort every night, and I think guys know that. I think in this league you know if you don't defend, you can't win. I think we know that as a bunch. I think we'll be looking forward to it."

Notes & quotes: Shumpert (sore right shoulder) was held out of the contact part of practice. He missed the previous two practices because of the shoulder . . . Amar'e Stoudemire, who had offseason knee surgery, watched the scrimmage and defensive sets. He's not running yet, and Woodson isn't sure when he will . . . Regarding comments made by the Nets about the Knicks, Martin said, "I don't care. We don't care about that. They can keep talking. We're here to play basketball. We play them four games. We have 78 other games we have to worry about.''

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