Knicks president Leon Rose didn’t bring John Calipari to New York, but he could add the Kentucky coach’s right-hand man.
Wildcats associate head coach Kenny Payne told the Lexington Herald-Leader that the Knicks have expressed interest in hiring him as an assistant coach on Tom Thibodeau’s staff. Payne is weighing an offer, according to Stadium’s Jeff Goodman.
“All I can say is it’s not an easy decision,” Payne said. “And, hopefully, it gets resolved one way or the other here soon.”
Payne, who joined Calipari’s staff in 2010 and was promoted four years later, said the Knicks reached out to the Hall of Fame coach for permission to talk to him and also have been in contact with his agent. Rose is Calipari’s former agent at CAA — where Knicks’ executive vice president William “Worldwide Wes’” Wesley also worked.
Leaving Kentucky could be a hard choice for Payne. His son, Zan, is a walk-on sophomore for the Wildcats.
“That is a unique situation,” Payne said when asked about coaching some of college basketball’s top talent. “It’s hard to even fathom leaving Kentucky when you’re in a position like I’m in.”
The Post has reported that former Knicks coach Mike Woodson and former interim coach Mike Miller are considered near locks to join the staff. Thibodeau is also expected to push most for Andy Greer, his former assistant with the Bulls and Timberwolves.
“I have a great job for a lot of different reasons,” Payne 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.”
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