The expectations always have been high for Kenyon Martin, from the time that he entered the league as the top overall pick in the 2000 NBA Draft.

But now, he returns to the game for his Knicks debut with decidedly lower expectations.

"A second 10-day [contract] and the rest of the season," Martin said with a smile. "Personally, that’s why I’m here. I don’t want it to just be 10 days. I’m trying to make it longer, start with this year and go from there."

Martin has been humbled, a 35-year-old who has been in the postseason 10 times and has one All-Star appearance now left to try to make good on a 10-day contract. He was left home until the All-Star break this season, unable to find a contract and wondering if his NBA career was over.

But the Knicks monitored his situation and, with Rasheed Wallace struggling through what is now likely a season-ending injury, Martin finally got the call. For a team in need of defense, the hard-nosed Martin is confident he will fill the bill — for the rest of the season at least.

"It humbles you," Martin said of being out of the league. "I know it humbled me. I can’t speak [for] the next man. I didn’t think I played all that bad last year with the Clippers. [I] helped them get out of the first round, was a major part of that.

"Stranger things have happened. It was something that was unexpected of course, took the time to get my mind around it. I went through every emotion: mad, sad, upset, confused. You name it, I went through it. It just took me to get my mind away from it for the most part and not let it consume my daily thought like it was."

The return to action was made easier by joining the Knicks, of all teams. Martin spent the early part of his career across the river with the Nets, and in the Knicks’ locker room he finds himself with familiar faces and kindred souls.

He played with Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, Marcus Camby and Raymond Felton in Denver, and with Jason Kidd in New Jersey. He is close to James White from their shared history at the University of Cincinnati. And then there is the matter of age.

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