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REPORT: University of Kentucky assistant coach Kenny Payne close to joining Knicks

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He knows Worldwide Wes.

Kansas State v Kentucky Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The New York Knicks have their head coach in Tom Thibodeau, but they are still looking to fill out their coaching staff, perhaps with many more assistants than they had in previous seasons.

One name on their wish list is University of Kentucky assistant (and friend of Knicks’ vice-president William “Worldwide Wes” Wesley) Kenny Payne. The Athletic’s Kentucky beat writer Kyle Tucker had a nice little profile of the coach (subscription only):

Besides the unfortunate “KP” monogram, Kenny Payne is known as an excellent coach for young big men, as well as the kind of coach who can connect with young stars. Former UK big Karl-Anthony Towns swears by Payne. This would normally be the part of the article where I’d connect Towns to the Knicks, but they probably won’t be pursing KAT now that they’ve hired Thibodeau.

Kentucky under John Calipari is famed for sending tons of talent to the NBA, but their record with bigs lately is mixed. KAT is an All-Star, but his team has struggled mightily in recent years. Bam Adebayo made his first All-Star team this season, though he was pretty raw coming out of school. Willie Cauley-Stein looks like a bust.

And then there’s Kevin Knox. Knox isn’t a traditional big man, but he probably worked with Payne in his one year in college. Could that familiarity help unlock something in Knox, who struggled mightily during his second season at MSG? It probably couldn’t hurt.

We’ll keep tracking this story and see if Worldwide Wes can land his guy on the New York bench.