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Kenny Payne on New York Knicks, “It’s not an easy decision”

Kenny Payne has broken his silence in the midst of conversations with the New York Knicks.  Hours after Jeff Goodman reported that Kentucky’s associate head coach was contemplating a job offer from the Knicks, he spoke with the Herald-Leader’s Jerry Tipton.

“All I can say is it’s not an easy decision,” he said. “And, hopefully, it gets resolved one way or the other here soon.”

Payne provided ammunition for optimists and pessimists. The following statement gives Kentucky fans a good reason to believe he will remain at UK.

“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.”

The optimist also notes that Payne’s son, Zan, still has two years of eligibility to play for UK. The pessimistic UK fan would argue that the job with the Knicks gives him a chance to coach some of his former Wildcats in the league. Julius Randle is currently a Knick and the organization is in the market for upcoming free agents like Devin Booker and Karl-Anthony Towns.

“That is a unique situation,” Payne said of the chance to work with highly regarded players. “It’s hard to even fathom leaving Kentucky when you’re in a position like I’m in.”

Even the pessimistic quote gives UK fans a good reason to believe he’ll remain at Kentucky. Although, the Friday report that former Calipari assistant Bruiser Flint would happily leave Indiana to replace Payne at Kentucky does sound like a cart has been placed in front of the horse.

The more you read into the reports and the meaning behind Payne’s quotes, the more confusing the matter becomes. As Payne said, hopefully it gets resolved one way or the other here soon.


Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR

17 Comments for Kenny Payne on New York Knicks, “It’s not an easy decision”

  1. BoogieDMC
    9:18 pm August 8, 2020 Permalink

    I sure hope he stays, but if he leaves, get Orlando Antigua, not Bruiser Flint!

  2. UKinIN
    9:38 pm August 8, 2020 Permalink

    Seems like Payne has what he needs at UK so the only question is if he thinks a future with the Knocks is brighter than a future with Calipari.

  3. DaaaaCats
    9:53 pm August 8, 2020 Permalink

    Man the Knicks have been a bit of a dumpster fire for a while now. They’ve got Madison Square Garden, which is pretty cool, but that organization is terribly run. I’d think that the workplace community is much better at UK.

    …but then again if his goal is to eventually become an NBA head coach, an assistant job at NY would definitely be that stepping stone

  4. UKgrad80
    10:18 pm August 8, 2020 Permalink

    I feel he is staying!

  5. CJKAssassin123
    10:27 pm August 8, 2020 Permalink

    As much as I would love for him to stay, I think he should take the job with the Knicks. This is a big opportunity to be the Knicks’s version of John Calipari. Opportunites like this don’t often come up for college assistant coaches who have little to none HC experience. Who knows if an opportunity like this will ever come up again. Right now he is a big fish in a lake, but it’s time for him to become a big fish in an ocean full of big and bigger fish’s.

  6. Rick_S
    10:42 pm August 8, 2020 Permalink

    Where is the Friday report that former Calipari assistant Bruiser Flint would happily leave Indiana to replace Payne at Kentucky?..who said this

  7. Hot Stuff Eddie Gilbert
    10:49 pm August 8, 2020 Permalink

    I bet he takes it. If he ever wants to move up in the profession, he will eventually have to leave Calipari and prove himself somewhere else.

  8. Fitz
    8:27 am August 9, 2020 Permalink

    I’m surprised that a promise of Payne taking over the Cats when Cal retires as an inducement for him staying ay UK has not been mentioned. Would you be ok with Payne as the next head coach at UK?

    • Not Dan Issel
      9:09 am August 9, 2020 Permalink

      Maybe. It worked out well for UK once before when Joe B. Hall replaced Coach Rupp. There are a lot of instances at other schools where it did not work out so well (North Carolina, for example). I think you would have to consider KP’s age at the time that Cal decided to retired, and also what other, younger prospects are out there that might be a good fit at UK. Don’t misunderstand me here. If Cal announced today that he was retiring, I would be perfectly happy with KP becoming the new coach. But I also have to assume that AD Barnhart keeps, and constantly updates, a list of potential coaches for UK basketball in the event that for whatever reason, Cal is one day no longer head basketball coach at UK. There might be a true future superstar coach out there just waiting for a chance to come here.

  9. recliner coach
    9:51 am August 9, 2020 Permalink

    I bet he is waiting to see what UK offers him to stay. Can always be a head coach but can only coach ur son so long.

  10. Bluenblood
    9:57 am August 9, 2020 Permalink

    Timings everything Kenny. And the timings not good here. At all

  11. J. Did
    10:05 am August 9, 2020 Permalink

    Love Kenny Payne. Selfishly, I hate to lose him. But this is an humanistic and a career growth move. Good luck to him; I know he will succeed. And, he will always have a home in LOU and LEX.

  12. light my fire
    11:21 am August 9, 2020 Permalink

    Easy decision

    UK is more money

    UK players can take coaching, nba is full of crybabies who know everything

    UK is a team, nba is individual

    • runningunnin.454
      12:54 pm August 9, 2020 Permalink

      Tend to agree with the last two statements; if he loves real coaching, there’s more opportunity at the college level. Not much real coaching in the NBA; the players are all superstars, and they’ve got 24 seconds to get up the floor, and get a shot.

  13. devotedsoles528
    5:00 pm August 9, 2020 Permalink

    Out of all the comments on the thread that point out important aspects for each argument of “should he stay or should he go”; the one that resonates heavier is that his son only goes through college once in his life. That time is now, Zan is at UK where KP has a great job that provides the opportunity to coach his son, create memories with his son, etc.
    But you can’t get mad at him for taking the Knicks gig. Great opportunity for a great guy.
    He will be missed tremendously if takes the job, but Cal has always been resilient with staff changes. He will figure it out if he has too!

  14. dan1965
    4:07 am August 10, 2020 Permalink

    Love KP and would absolutely hate to see him leave. If he does though I am totally in agreement with others,forget BRUISER ,Orlando Antiqua should be the person who is brought back as an assistant, but before he was lead recruiter,and would he be willing to not be now ?
    Forget what happened at South Florida,that was a few years back and yes he was the head coach and ultimately responsible,his brother was the one who made the mistake though, and I think that can be put in the past.
    But again,where he’s at now he’s in charge of recruiting, as much as Kentucky is a better job, I just can’t see Calipari placing him back as lead us recruiting coordinator in front of the guys who have since worked there way up. Thoughts ?