Long-time Kentucky basketball assistant coach Kenny Payne is headed to the New York Knicks.
According to a report by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Payne has accepted a job with the Knicks to join Tom Thibodeau’s staff as an assistant.
ESPN story on Knicks hiring Kentucky's Kenny Payne as an assistant on Tom Thibodeau's coaching staff. https://t.co/YSkUTINsdE
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 11, 2020
Rumors had been circling around the Knicks and KP since July, and a formal offer had reportedly been given this past week. The Cats will have big shoes to fill without Payne on the staff.
UK sent out a press release officially announcing that the long-time assistant would be joining the Knicks, and included quotes from Payne himself:
“First of all, I want to thank (UK President) Dr. Capilouto, Mitch Barnhart and Coach Cal for the unbelievable opportunity I’ve had at Kentucky for the last 10 years. I’ve been blessed to not only coach at the greatest program in college basketball but to be in a position to help young men grow and develop and to play a part in their families’ lives. They’ve been 10 of the most rewarding years of my life, and I’ll cherish my time in Lexington for the rest of my career.”
“This decision wasn’t easy for me. I have a great job at Kentucky, and to think about leaving has been one of the offered an incredible opportunity with the New York Knicks and a chance to help restore what I believe should be the premiere organization in the NBA.”
Here was UK Head Coach John Calipari’s reaction:
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) August 11, 2020
According to Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports, Payne’s replacement on the UK staff with be Indiana assistant Bruiser Flint. Stay tuned for more on that.