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Kenny Payne joining Knicks; Bruiser Flint to replace him

Payne is off to the pros.

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Mississippi v Kentucky Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Kenny Payne is leaving Kentucky.

On Tuesday, it was announced that Payne has agreed to a deal with the New York Knicks to join their coaching staff as an assistant.

In addition, Payne will be replaced with Indiana assistant Bruiser Flint on Kentucky’s coaching staff, according to Jon Rothstein.

The Knicks recently hired Tom Thibodeau to be the franchise’s next head coach, and he quickly targeted Payne to be an assistant. Not only is Payne one of the more promising assistants in college basketball, but he also has close relationships with former Wildcats who are now NBA stars, including Devin Booker, Karl-Anthony Towns, Bam Adebayo, De’Aaron Fox, Anthony Davis, and Jamal Murray among others.

The Knicks already have one former Wildcat in Kevin Knox, who played at Kentucky in 2017-18, as well as Julius Randle, who was in Lexington for the 2013-14 season. That probably made it easier to sell the Knicks to Payne. And the team will obviously hope the addition of Payne will make it easier to pursue former Wildcats who become available in the coming years.

“KP is one of the best development coaches in the world,” Towns told The Athletic last year. “KP is the horse beneath the jockey driving Kentucky basketball.”

Just days ago, Stadium tabbed Payne as the No. 1 assistant coach in the SEC.

As for Flint, he is in his fourth year as an assistant at Indiana. He spent 20 years as a Division I head coach at Drexel (2001-16) and UMass (1996-01). He replaced Calipari when he left to coach the New Jersey Nets in 1996.