The Knicks have formally announced the first addition to Tom Thibodeau‘s new staff, confirming in a press release that they’ve hired Kentucky associate head coach Kenny Payne as an assistant. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the hiring.
Payne, who has been a member of John Calipari‘s Wildcats staff for the last decade, has strong relationships with new Knicks president of basketball operations Leon Rose and executive VP William Wesley, Wojnarowski notes.
“I’m thrilled that Kenny has joined my staff as an assistant coach. He has an outstanding ability to forge relationships with players and improve their skills,” Thibodeau said in a statement. “He knows what it takes to win and has learned from one of the best coaches there is in John Calipari. Kenny will be a tremendous addition to our organization.”
Before being hired by Kentucky in 2010, Payne was an assistant with the Oregon Ducks. He also played basketball professionally before beginning his coaching career, spending a few seasons with the Sixers from 1989-93.
As we noted over the weekend when discussing the Knicks’ interest in Payne, the longtime college assistant is known for developing big men, including Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns. He also worked with Knicks forwards Julius Randle and Kevin Knox while they were at Kentucky.
Mike Woodson and Mike Miller are among the other coaches rumored to be candidates to join Thibodeau’s staff.