It appears that momentum is building for Kentucky assistant and player development guru Kenny Payne to join Tom Thibodeau on the sideline with the New York Knicks.
The New York Daily News first flagged Payne as an assistant option, and a new Stadium report on Saturday indicates it is considering an offer to sign with the Knicks.
Kentucky Sports Radio recently reported that it is a “real possibility” that it decides to head to New York, with a decision expected this week. Payne and recently hired Knicks executive William “World Wide Wes” Wesley are close.
Payne was a key coach in Kevin Knox’s development before he was selected with the ninth overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. Perhaps the Kentucky assistant can unlock everything that Knox’s game has been missing on a professional level.
Mentioning Payne’s name draws attention to Knox’s biggest NBA stars. Karl-Anthony Towns swears by the 53-year-old coach.
“KP is one of the best development coaches in the world,” Towns told The Athletic last year. “KP is the horse under the jockey who drives Kentucky basketball.”
Kentucky Sports Radio reported in July that the Knicks are “intrigued” by his ability to recruit former Kentucky stars, such as Towns and Devin Booker.
Both young players recently signed long-term contracts with their respective teams, so gazing at the stars might be a bit far-fetched for one of those players. It is worth noting that Payne has also been successful in developing superstar big man Anthony Davis, who is expected to sign with the Lakers again in the off-season.
Player development is a major area of concern for recently hired Knicks president Leon Rose. He engaged college scouting guru Walt Perrin to identify the best young talent, along with new professional scouts to scour the NBA landscape.
The Knicks are considering hiring several coaches for player development as well as filling Thibodeau’s assistant staff, according to SNY.
Payne would power New York’s development on the sidelines. However, it would likely be an expensive rental as he will make $ 900,000 until next June in Kentucky. James Dolan is already paying David Fizdale the rest of his $ 22 million contract, as well as what is believed to be a similarly sized salary for new manager Tom Thibodeau.
The Knicks are expected to hire veteran NBA manager Mike Woodson as their assistant senior. Former interim coach Mike Miller will apparently also retain a role within the organization.