Knicks’ Kevin Knox can become a star if he gets ‘clean slate,’ coach says
Kevin Knox took a huge step back in his second season with the New York Knicks, but one of his former coaches remains confident that Knox can be a star in the NBA under the right circumstances. Those circumstances would include the Knicks moving on from head coach Mike Miller.
Kentucky assistant coach Kenny Payne has a close relationship with Knox from Knox’s brief time with the Wildcats. While Miller is in consideration for New York’s full-time head coaching gig, Payne feels Knox could thrive under a new regime.
“No question, I think a new staff comes in and can evaluate what the kid is and tell him what he needs him to do,” Payne told Marc Berman of the the New York Post on Tuesday. “He’s starting with a clean slate. There’s no prejudging of who he is. He can go out and feel comfortable and do the things to help the team win. I think he’s coming back with a new and different fire. With a little adversity, you can attain greatness. And he’s been through it.”
The Knicks took Knox with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, and he played a prominent role in his rookie season. Knox started 57 games and averaged 12.8 points and 4.5 rebounds as a rookie, but he did not continue that success under David Fizdale and Miller. Knox averaged just 6.4 points and 2.8 rebounds while playing 17.9 minutes per game this season. Payne attributes that to Knox not getting enough support.
“He’s had people question his desire, question his toughness, question his defense, question his shooting,” Payne said. “In my opinion, great players, good players in the NBA, it’s not can he shoot, defend, rebound. It’s about if he’s secure and comfortable doing it, getting him more comfortable. Getting him in a more aggressive mindset to do it is more important.”
A new head coach might not solve all of Knox’s problems, as Berman reports that new Knicks president Leon Rose is not totally sold on the 20-year-old. Berman was also told by sources after the season was suspended that Knicks coaches think Knox lacks toughness. However, Payne has a strong relationship with Knicks GM Scott Perry, and the Kentucky assistant is confident the Knicks believe in Knox.
John Calipari has supposedly warned the Knicks that trading Knox would be a bad idea. Calipari’s name is also being mentioned in connection with the Knicks job, and that would obviously be a dream scenario for Knox.