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Jazz assistant Johnnie Bryant to be Knicks associate head coach, source says

Utah Jazz coach Johnnie Bryant watches during the

Utah Jazz coach Johnnie Bryant watches during the second half of the team's NBA summer league basketball game against the Boston Celtics on Tuesday, July 5, 2016, in Salt Lake City. Credit: AP/Rick Bowmer

The Knicks, according to a league source, have reached an agreement with Utah Jazz assistant coach Johnnie Bryant to join Tom Thibodeau’s staff as associate head coach.

Bryant joins Kenny Payne, who left the University of Kentucky and was officially announced last week as an assistant coach. Bryant, according to the source, will continue to coach with the Jazz through the playoffs before joining the Knicks. 

The arrival of the 34-year-old Bryant has not changed the plan to hire former Knicks head coach Mike Woodson, who is expected to complete a deal to join Thibodeau. 

One coach who won’t be back on Thibodeau’s staff is Mike Miller, who served as interim coach for the Knicks this season. First reported by the NY Daily News, Miller will not serve as an assistant coach for the Knicks. According to a league source, Miller will search for another coaching opportunity and if he does not land one could possibly return to the Knicks in another capacity, possibly serving as a scout or in the pro personnel department.

Bryant, like Payne, has a reputation as a player development specialist. With the Knicks currently building around a young and unproven core of RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson and holding three draft picks among the first 38, player development is key for the team. Thibodeau began his career in the NBA with a similar focus on developing young players.

Bryant was serving as a private coach after a brief professional career overseas when he was hired by the Jazz in 2012 as a player development specialist. He moved up to become a top assistant under Utah coach Quin Snyder and has developed close relationships with a number of players that he has worked with — including Jazz star Donovan Mitchell and Portland Trail Blazers standout Damian Lillard. 

After the news of Bryant’s move was first reported by The Athletic, Mitchell posted a picture of he and Bryant together and wrote, “What’s Understood Doesn’t Need To Be Explained! Love always! Now before you go we got some [expletive] to handle first!”

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