The New York Knicks‘ sequel to their feel-good playoff run is spiraling down to a horror story.
As if losing their fifth in their last six games — a thorough beating at the hands of the Eastern Conference leader Miami Heat which showed the gap between them and the elite tier in the league — isn’t enough, the Knicks are also in danger of losing one of their top assistant coaches.
Kenny Payne, who bolted Kentucky and John Calipari to join the Knicks last season, is the heavy betting favorite to land one of the top 10 jobs in college basketball.
Sportsline.com listed Payne as the odds-on favorite at +400 to become the next head coach of Louisville after the major NCAA program parted ways with Chris Mack.
Payne turned down De Paul last year despite his strong ties with the school’s athletic director DeWayne Peevy, who also came from Calipari’s Kentucky program. But Payne’s stronger ties with Louisville are too hard to ignore.
A member of the Cardinals’ 1986 NCAA title team, Payne could also make history as Louisville’s first black head coach. He is also the popular choice among former Cardinal players as the right man to right the ship for the sinking major basketball program.
Despite having no prior head coaching experience, Payne is well-liked in the basketball circles. NBA stars swear by Payne, whom he helped develop into No. 1 picks, lottery selections, and stars in the league. Payne was also Calipari’s chief recruiter over 10 years at Kentucky and has built a reputation as a player’s coach.
Scott Davenport, who grew up in Louisville and the architect of Bellarmine’s transformation into a Division II powerhouse, and Seton Hall’s Kevin Willard are the next two favorites at +500. Auburn’s Bruce Pearl is a long shot at +2,500.
Last season, the Knicks lost another top assistant in Mike Woodson, who returned to his alma mater, Indiana University.
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