GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Kenyon Martin, in a saga with elements of Rip Van Winkle and the headless horseman, on Saturday joined the Knicks.

Two hundred years after Washington Irving's heyday, Gotham's basketball team has a version of Knickerbocker Tales that young America's classic short-story author would recognize.

Once an NBA All-Star, the 35-year-old Martin has been absent from the scene for a long time, cut loose by the Los Angeles Clippers at the end of last season and since passed over by an entire league. Furthermore, now that he is back -- working for now with a 10-day contract -- he acknowledged that a primary chore is "changing perceptions" that he is susceptible to brainless episodes.

"I'm a hothead, I think, a little bit," Martin said after Saturday's first workout with his new team. "There's some other things . . . that I'm not coachable. I think I'm pretty coachable. I do what coaches ask. I don't like to practice, but . . .

"I'm here and I'm here to change all that, and if it's 10 days or if it's the rest of the season, whatever it is, I'm excited for the opportunity to be here. I'm humbled, I'm blessed. Most of all, I get to play basketball again."

Where Martin will fit into an already unsettled phase in the Knicks' season is hardly clear. Martin "could" be in uniform Sunday night against Philadelphia at the Garden, coach Mike Woodson said.

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On the one hand, "I know he's a hustle player, and if he hustles and gets rebounds and does the dirty work, he can play for me," Woodson said. "But I've got to gauge it. I've still got to play the guys who know what we're doing right now, because we're trying to get off this skid. If it presents itself and I can throw [Martin] in, then I'll probably let him get his feet wet a little bit and see where we are."

Martin is long past the days when he was a central character in the Nets' back-to-back trips to the NBA Finals a decade ago, and some distance from helping the Denver Nuggets become a contender. He brings career averages of 13.0 points, 48.1 percent field-goal accuracy and 7.1 rebounds, but he played in only 42 games for the Clippers last season, averaging 5.2 points and 4.3 rebounds.

Waiting for a phone call from some team, any team, the past eight months, "I went through every emotion," he said. "Mad, sad, upset, frustrated, you name it."

But he still considers he has the "heart" to play. "That ain't going nowhere, man. That's what got me drafted , that's what got me a scholarship, that's what got me 12 years. So I'm going to compete at a high level every time I put on this uniform, with that warrior mentality."

From these 10 days, he said, he expects "another 10 days, and then the rest of the season. If they throw me out there tomorrow, a minute, 10 minutes, I'll be happy. I'm just trying not to hyperventilate."