The New York Knicks are assembling a coaching staff for their new head coach, Tom Thibodeau. Tuesday morning the team announced it hired Kentucky assistant coach Kenny Payne to join Thibodeau’s staff. Payne is the first official hire for Thibodeau’s coaching staff.
Payne was an assistant for the Oregon Ducks under head coach Ernie Kent from 2004-09. He joined John Calipari’s coaching staff at Kentucky in 2010, where he spent 10 seasons. Payne coached a plethora of lottery selections at Kentucky who panned out to be reliable NBA starters and/or All-Stars.
Some players who worked with Payne include but aren’t limited to: Anthony Davis, Karl-Anthony Towns, Devin Booker, Jamal Murray, De’Aaron Fox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Tyler Herro. Meanwhile, the Knicks have two players who played at Kentucky under Payne: Kevin Knox and Julius Randle.
Knox and Randle tweeted positively about Payne in the wake of him joining the organization on Tuesday.
Wow, what a great birthday surprise…..Congratulations Coach KP! Welcome to the Knicks Family. ????
— Kev (@KevKnox) August 11, 2020
Knox played for the Wildcats in the 2017-18 college basketball season. He averaged 15.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, which helped him get selected ninth by the Knicks in the 2018 NBA Draft.
The forward is two years into his NBA career. Last season he averaged 6.4 points and 2.8 rebounds per game.
Randle played for the Wildcats in the 2013-14 college basketball season. He averaged 15.0 points and 10.4 rebounds per game, which helped him get selected seventh by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2014 NBA Draft.
The big man is entering the second season of a three-year, $62 million deal with the Knicks. Last season he averaged 19.5 points and 9.7 rebounds per game.
Former Knicks head coach Mike Woodson and 2020 interim head coach Mike Miller are reported candidates to join Thibodeau’s coaching staff.
The Knicks own two first-round draft picks and their own second rounder in the upcoming NBA Draft and could carry as much as $60 million in cap space into free agency.