There have been plenty of rumors over the years of Kentucky head coach John Calipari leaving Lexington for the New York Knicks, but now a different UK coach is being linked to the Big Apple.
Stephen Bondy of the New York Daily News reports that 10-time NBA all-star Jason Kidd is emerging as the favorite for the Knicks head coaching position, and if he lands the job, UK associate head coach Kenny Payne could join him as an assistant.
Bondy reported that Payne, along with former Knicks player Rod Strickland and Knicks coach Mike Woodson, could join Kidd’s staff, given their ties to ties New York’s new executive William’ World Wide’ Wesley, who is running the search with team president Leon Rose.
Calipari’s close relationships with both Wesley and Rose lead to the early speculation he could become the Knicks’ next head coach, but that was put to bed when he signed a lifetime contract to stay in Lexington.
It appears Payne could be the Knicks next UK target as they look to build much-needed franchise stability.
If Payne were to team-up with Kidd, he’d be working with one of the top point guards in NBA history who spent time with the Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns, New Jersey Nets and the Knicks during his remarkable career. He has also served as head coach of both the Nets and Milwaukee Bucks and is now an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Lakers.
It’s no secret that Payne wants to be a head coach soon, but it’s unclear how interested he’d be in leaving UK for an assistant role in the NBA.