Woodson will hold K-Mart out Thursday

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Kenyon Martin did everything but scrimmage today in Knicks practice.

But head coach Mike Woodson wants to keep his veteran forward/center out of Thursday's preseason game in Washington to play it safe. Martin has not played yet in the preseason.

"He's not ready for that yet," Woodson said of Martin playing in a preseason game. "I haven't even gotten him into a scrimmage yet. He did everything up to our shell work which is half-court defense where there's some contact. But we did not let him scrimmage so we have to get him to that stage."

Martin was icing his left ankle -- the veteran suffered a left ankle injury late last regular season -- after practice. But Martin says he's doing everything but scrimmaging at Woodson's request.

"The only thing I am not doing is the 10-minute scrimmage," Martin said. "I am doing everything else. Running, jumping, five-on-five halfcourt, I am doing everything else. There is no timetable. It is just when they want me to play. When Woody gives me the OK, it's OK to go play. It ain't the doctors or nothing. It is Woody [who makes the decision]."

Martin, 35, said the younger version of him would be itching to play in the preseason. But he understands what Woodson is trying to accomplish.

"The more mature and older Kenyon understands what the goal is," he said. "They need me in April, May and definitely June."

"I think they are just limiting I guess the miles that I get day in and day out on the court running up and down the court, running and jumping," Martin added. "Just preserving ankles, knees and feet and all that. It's cool."

Woodson said he doesn't want "to burn him out here right now." The Knicks will need Martin off the bench. He provides scoring and rebounding inside and, more importantly, defense and an experienced big behind Tyson Chandler.

"I feel like I can start on any team in the league," Martin said. "But that's not the case here, I understand that. I am going to play my role. Tyson can't play 48. He probably wants to. But it probably wouldn't be smart.

"So me knowing what I can bring to the table ... I think I am a center nowadays," Martin added of being the backup center for the Knicks. "I came in as a 4, played some 3 then [in New Jersey]. I think I am a 5 now. Not many true centers in the league. I don't mind that role, not at all."

Martin said there is a major difference for him mentally entering this season than last year. At this time last year, Martin was not with a team.

"It is the mental aspect, knowing that I am going to be here for the year for the duration of the season," Martin said of how much better he feels having a camp under his belt entering this season. "Last year, it was up in the air. I got discouraged about it last year.

"My mental state right now is at an all-time high," he continued. "I know I am going to help this team. I am going to be a part of a lot of wins this year, and a great playoff run. I am excited about it."