On Friday, Adam Zagoria confirmed that report and noted that Payne was still in the running for the job, and someone has emerged as a replacement if Payne does leave.
The potential replacement for Payne is Bruiser Flint.
Flint has more than 30 years of coaching experience and is a longtime friend of John Calipari who had Flint as an assistant during his time at UMASS. Flint has spent 20 years as a D1 head coach at UMASS (1996-2001) and Drexel (2001-16) where he won 331 games.
He was named Colonial Athletic Association Coach of the Year (2002, 2004, 2009 and 2012) and NABC District Coach of the Year (1998, 2007, 2009 and 2012) four times each.
Kentucky Sports Radio reported that the Knicks are interested in Payne not only for his ability to develop elite bigs but the recruiting potential of former Kentucky stars Karl-Anthony Towns and Devin Booker when they become free agents.
It was initially reported that Payne would only be an option if they decided to hire 10-time NBA All-Star Jason Kidd as its head coach. However, it seems like he is still an option now that the Knicks have hired Tom Thibodeau.
It would be a huge loss for the Cats if Payne does decide to leave, which was evidenced by today’s ranking of SEC assistants, where Payne came in No. 1.
One would also think Payne wouldn’t want an NBA job if he wants to be a head coach soon. You don’t see many NBA assistants hired to be college head coaches, but maybe Payne thinks he could land an NBA head-coaching gig someday.
Whatever the case may be, hopefully Payne ends up where he wants to be.