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Kenny Payne speaks about Knicks’ interest

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“All I can say is it’s not an easy decision.”

Kenny Payne Aaron Gershon - A Sea of Blue

Kentucky assistant Kenny Payne remains a strong candidate for the Knicks’ new coaching staff, but it’s not a done deal.

In an interview with Jerry Tipton of the Lexington Herald-Leader, Payne spoke about the Knicks’ interest in him, saying it’s a situation he hopes is resolved soon.

“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 went on to speak out his time as a college coach, what he’s loved about it, and why it would be hard to leave the situation he has at Kentucky.

“What people think is hard about college basketball, I love about college basketball,” he said. “I love recruiting and building relationships with families. All of that, that’s important to me.”

Payne has been instrumental in the success Kentucky has had over the last decade. Since he joined the staff for the 2010-11 season, the Wildcats have been to four Final Fours, won the 2012 NCAA Championship, and produced a wealth of NBA stars he had a major hand in developing.

To lose Payne would be a significant blow for Kentucky, as he’s simply one of the best assistants in all of college basketball. He was recently tabbed the top-ranked SEC assistant by Stadium.

It’s unclear how much the Knicks are offering Payne and how close Kentucky is willing to go toward matching it. That “hopefully it gets resolved one way or the other here soon” line makes me think the school is working on or has already issued a counter offer to whatever the Knicks are offering.

We’ve seen the school endure some strong pitches from other schools for football assistant Vince Marrow, only to keep him in the end. Can the basketball Cats do the same with their ace assistant?

Be sure to read the full Herald-Leader report for more insight from Payne.