Louisville hiring Knicks assistant Kenny Payne as head coach

Knicks assistant coach Kenny Payne
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Knicks will reportedly keep Tom Thibodeau as coach into next season.

But they’re losing one of his assistants.

Gary B. Graves of the Associated Press:

Louisville and Kenny Payne have agreed on a deal for the former Cardinals player and current New York Knicks assistant to become the men’s basketball program’s first Black head coach, said a person with knowledge of the situation.

Maybe the Knicks will use this vacancy to hire a stronger in-next-season replacement option for Thibodeau, who has drawn criticism from within the organization. New York lost assistant Mike Woodson, who previously head-coached the Hawks and Knicks, to University of Indiana last year. New York’s associate head coach, Johnnie Bryant, has no prior head-coaching experience.

Payne, who came to the Knicks from University of Kentucky in 2020, has mostly worked as a college assistant. Known as an excellent recruiter, he will probably have an easier time attracting top talent to a potentially premier program like Louisville than the Knicks have had luring stars.