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BREAKING: Kenny Payne accepts job with New York Knicks

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.

The Knicks internally discussed Payne as an option after agreeing to a deal with Thibodeau back in July. A formal offer was put on the table this past week.

“All I can say is it’s not an easy decision,” Payne said in an interview with Herald-Leader’s Jerry Tipton. “And, hopefully, it gets resolved one way or the other here soon.”

At the time, Payne said it would be “hard to even fathom leaving” Lexington.

“But I have a great job for a lot of different reasons,” he said. “And all I can tell you is that I’ve been blessed to be able to be in a position to help a lot of people. It’s more than just basketball with me when you’re in a position to help families. … That is a unique situation. It’s hard to even fathom leaving Kentucky when you’re in a position like I’m in.”

Now, John Calipari will have to replace his top assistant at Kentucky.

UPDATE (10:07 am) — Kentucky makes it Official

The University of Kentucky announced Payne will in fact leave Kentucky after a decade in Lexington.

“This is a bittersweet day for us at Kentucky,” UK head coach John Calipari said. “Kenny has been an extremely important part of our success here. His relationship with our players is second to none. He coaches them and challenges them as hard as anyone, but they respect him, they listen to him and they learn from him because they know he cares. As a basketball coach and a teacher, he could run any program in the country. Simply, he’s as good as they get.

“I was disappointed that Kenny didn’t get that chance, but this is one of those opportunities Kenny had to look at, and I fully support his decision to join Tom Thibodeau’s staff. Kenny’s approach with his players, his knowledge of and his experience in the game, and his work ethic will serve him well on the professional level. I have high expectations for him in the NBA. For Julius Randle and Kevin Knox, it will be immediate, but as other players get to know and trust him, they’ll know he’s about one thing: their improvement and their success. I have no doubt that Kenny is going to be a great asset to Coach Thibodeau’s staff.

“I’ve had seven or eight different staffs in my career and it’s always been based on coaches getting an opportunity to chase their dreams. My hope is I have an opportunity to have seven more staffs.”

Payne thanked UK administrators, Calipari and the BBN for supporting him. He also said that leaving UK is one of the hardest things he’s ever done.

“First of all, I want to thank Dr. Eli Capilouto, Mitch Barnhart and Coach Cal for the unbelievable opportunity I’ve had at Kentucky for the last 10 years,” Payne said. “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 hardest things I have ever done. But I have also been offered an incredible opportunity with the New York Knicks and a chance to help restore what I believe should be the premier organization in the NBA.

“Big Blue Nation, thank you for embracing me and treating me and my family with respect. You are truly the best fans in college basketball and a major ingredient to what makes UK special. I am a firm believer in Coach Cal, and any player who is talented and has the character and the mental toughness to chase his dreams should want to play for my mentor and coach.”

 

Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

49 Comments for BREAKING: Kenny Payne accepts job with New York Knicks



  1. Papa Johns 40th Pizza
    9:51 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

    The beginning of the end? Stay tuned for more!



  2. Catcasey1
    9:53 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

    Yep same thing happened to crum when he lost Huston



  3. T-Town Cat
    9:54 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

    If true, Cal needs to make a big splash with his replacement



    • CJKAssassin123
      10:22 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

      They have hired Buster Flint.



    • T-Town Cat
      10:31 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

      That’s not what I meant. ?



  4. boomroasted09
    9:54 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

    Noooooo!



  5. Richd23
    9:55 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

    This hurts. Big time loss.



  6. neat1ky
    9:55 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

    A mistake for him, won’t be able to mold players as easily as at UK. Players at the next have a hard time being told what to do and agents and contracts will dictate how they respond but wish him the best because he has been a great addition to UK



    • CJKAssassin123
      10:13 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

      That’s not why he’s doing this. This is about improving his resume from a marketing stand point. Just being on an NBA Staff is going to make him a lot more of an attractive option for future college HC gigs. He made the right decision.



    • chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door
      10:16 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

      CJK, you may be right, but I don’t think you can say that definitely. I believe if he stays around he may have gotten the UK job. Now I’m not so sure. I believe if he felt he needed to leave to get in line for the UK HC, it should have been for another HC job at another school. But, who knows? I may be wrong. Either way, he did a great job for us., so good luck to him.



    • PensacolaCat
      10:28 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

      No way would a guy with no head coaching experience be in line for the UK job. Absolutely never would happen.



    • michaelb
      1:36 pm August 11, 2020 Permalink

      Kenny would be the exception



    • CJKAssassin123
      10:33 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

      No your right, but he doesn’t have really any head coach experience so without the experience it’s really hard for him to get a coaching job that he actually wants. So coaching in the NBA is a good way to substitute for the lack of of HC experience. who knows KP could end up being their head coach of the Knicks down the line. Which if he were to lose that job he’d be a prime HC option for high profile non Power 5 schools. If he succeds there then Power 5 schools would likely come calling.



    • neat1ky
      10:53 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

      If u look up Bruiser Flint it already has him as an assistant at UK and I meant to say before going to pros for the experience and I bet Cal told him it was a good move for his resume



  7. Ben27
    9:56 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

    Must be getting a gigantic salary to get anyone to move to New York. I wish him the best and thanks for many great years!



    • CJKAssassin123
      10:37 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

      Well of course he is!!!



  8. runningunnin.454
    9:57 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

    Dayum!



  9. kcanant
    9:59 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

    KP is a great coach. He has been a blessing to the program. I don’t know him, but he seems to be a fantastic human being/a great person. I hope that he has nothing but success and happiness. I wish him and his family all the best!



  10. Bluehender
    10:00 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

    Hate to see him go but I don’t blame him. Hope he comes back to be our coach when Cal leaves



  11. Brutal Hustler
    10:01 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

    Honestly, hire Vince Marrow. He might not be good at X’s and O’s but I bet he’d bring 5 star Jimmy’s and Joe’s



  12. BigBluSoTru
    10:01 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

    Jaylen Rose i’m hearing this morning not Bruiser Flint



    • VilleCat11
      10:05 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

      I’d be good with that I think!



    • Irish son
      10:23 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

      Wrong



    • T-Town Cat
      10:32 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

      Nope



  13. RealCatsFan
    10:02 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

    Wish him the best, but sad that he’s leaving. And agree that Cal needs to make a really good hire as a replacement. That is, if Cal is really worried about it. I sometimes get the feeling that he has lost that edge that he had the first 5 or 6 years.



  14. UKBigBlueForever
    10:04 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

    2020 keeps being 2020



  15. VilleCat11
    10:04 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

    Big loss but wish him nothing but the best.. much love and respect!!
    As far as the hire, sounds like flint is the choice but I dont know if he is a sexy hire on the recruiting trail… but I’ll trust the process!! Go Cats!!



  16. dandycat
    10:05 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

    Any chance he brings back Antigua?



    • chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door
      10:11 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

      I don’t think so. If he was actually the stud recruiter we’re lead to believe, why would he have not brought him back already? He hired Barbee, and one of the huge knocks against Barbee at Auburn was that he was a horrible PR guy (and that HAD to be a negative effect on recruiting). I believe Antiqua is viewed as damaged goods at this point. I could be wrong, and I hope he’s hired if he was innocent.



    • CJKAssassin123
      10:16 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

      Zero chance



    • CJKAssassin123
      10:21 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

      Buster Flint has already been hired to UK’s staff, However Tony Barbee has been promoted to KP’s right hand man role. Buster is just going to be an assistant coach an



    • chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door
      10:22 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

      And who is your source CJ? You are always pretty definitive as if you know someone in the athletic department.



    • CJKAssassin123
      10:43 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

      Matt Jones. KSR just reported it as well.



    • chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door
      10:57 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

      OIC. I didn’t see that post until after my prior comment.



  17. ClutchCargo
    10:06 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

    I hate to see him go, obviously. But I’m curious what Cal’s next move will be. I would love to have Antigua back.



  18. chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door
    10:08 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

    Hopefully one of the perks they’re giving him is 24/7 security since their commie anti-police mayor is throwing his good citizens to the wolves and turned NYC into a crime infested crap hole again. Unfortunately for those good citizens, Rudy Giuliani is not walking through that door.



    • chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door
      10:13 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

      But good luck to him. I didn’t mean any of that as bitterness toward Payne. I wish him the best. I am bitter about it (haha), but not personally toward him.

      BTW, I think this means he won’t ever be our HC. I could be wrong about that, but I thought if he left, he would leave for a HC job, and then maybe come back if he does a great job at a non-blueblood school.



  19. BowdenQB4ever
    10:10 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

    Cal is cashing checks and enjoying life, he’s not going to work himself to death at this point in his career. Especially with the fortune we’ve handed him. The rest of his tenure is downhill.



  20. BigBluSoTru
    10:17 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

    I was just informed Bruiser Flint will be annouced soon so much for Rose.



  21. UK_fac_boi
    10:22 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

    Good luck KP!!! Love this guy!



  22. PensacolaCat
    10:22 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

    I doubt any of you know what impact this will have. The hand wringing is extremely speculative. Maybe a shake up in the staff is what this program needs.



  23. madarchitect
    10:27 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

    Maybe KP just wanted to coach and he knows some thing that we don’t about the upcoming college basketball season.



  24. JGo
    10:53 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

    Losing Coach Payne will sting but the U.K. program will continue to flourish!! Best of Luck and success to Coach Payne as he takes on his next challenge, coaching in the NBA.



  25. Aar
    10:54 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

    Much love. Wishing KP all success with the Knicks. I know the Cats will do great going forward. This is a big bump in the road and an opportunity for Barbee, Justice and Flint to show more of their stuff.



  26. Johnny C
    11:02 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

    Congrats Kenny and thank you!!!



  27. CJKAssassin123
    11:37 am August 11, 2020 Permalink

    Don’t be surprised if KP ends up the Knicks HC in a year or two.



  28. KatFan48
    12:54 pm August 11, 2020 Permalink

    Congrats Coach Payne. I will remember you as a class act and a great coach.



  29. UKFanSC
    1:17 pm August 11, 2020 Permalink

    He was an incredible assistant coach and I hate to lose him, but wish him all the best.



  30. michaelb
    1:37 pm August 11, 2020 Permalink

    Can’t believe someone got tricked into moving to New York. Sure they will find him he least burnt apartment