Report: Knicks set to hire Rick Brunson to fill Kenny Payne’s void

The New York Knicks are reportedly adding Rick Brunson to Tom Thibodeau’s coaching staff to fill the post vacated by Kenny Payne.

SNY’s Ian Begley was the first to report the story.

Payne left the Knicks late last season to become the first black head coach of the Louisville Cardinals.



Brunson, who played for the Knicks for two seasons during his nine-year NBA career, was previously a member of Thibodeau’s coaching staff in Chicago and Minnesota.

The timing of the hiring comes with scrutiny as Rick’s son, Jalen Brunson, is set to become an unrestricted free agent coveted by the Knicks. But it can be noted that this is not the first time that the organization has attempted to add Rick to their coaching staff.

In 2020, Rick Brunson was rumored to join Thibodeau’s coaching staff. He already tendered his resignation from his Camden High School coaching post. But he had a change of heart and was apparently persuaded to return and continue coaching top-ranked 2023 recruit DJ Wagner, son of former NBA player Dajuan Wagner.

DJ’s grandfather, Milt Wagner, considers Knicks executive vice president and senior advisor Wesley William his best friend, and gave him his biggest break. Dajuan Wagner is Wesley’s godson and was also represented by Leon Rose.

Meanwhile, Milt Wagner and Payne were also teammates during Louisville’s 1986 NCAA title run. He joined Payne in his Louisville homecoming as the director of player development and alumni relations.

This year, Rick Brunson coached the DJ Wagner-led Camden High School to the Group 2 New Jersey state title. He was also Rose’s first client as a player agent. Rose later represented Rick’s son, Jalen Brunson, and negotiated his unique four-year rookie deal (without club option in the last year) with the Dallas Mavericks.

Rick Brunson will also be reunited with the Greer brothers — Larry and Andy — and Dice Yoshimoto in Thibodeau’s staff.

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