At the very least, Jason Kidd joked he had fresh legs.

But since keeping the 39-year-old future Hall of Fame guard healthy throughout the marathon NBA season is imperative to the Knicks, he's likely to be eased back into the lineup.

"It's good to be back on the floor with the guys," Kidd said after Tuesday's practice, his first after missing eight days and four games with lower back spasms. "They're playing extremely well, so hopefully I don't interfere with that."

Kidd and backcourt mate Raymond Felton, who suffered a bone bruise to his left thumb in Sunday's 106-99 win over the Suns, are listed as probable tonight when the Knicks (12-4) open a three-game road trip in Charlotte. The Knicks then face the Heat on Thursday before ending the trip Saturday at Chicago.

Kidd, who is averaging 8.0 points and 3.4 assists, said he expects to play tonight, but anticipates coming off the bench. It's doubtful he'll approach the 26 minutes per game he was playing when he started the Knicks' first 12 games.

The Knicks won three of four in his absence with big man Kurt Thomas joining the starting five.

"We'll just have to play it by ear and see how he feels," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. "I can't play him a lot of minutes right now, so we'll monitor that as we go along. I've got to be open-minded because he's here for the long haul. We don't want any more setbacks."