NBA Free Agency: Why the New York Knicks Need To Pursue Nene

Cody CurrieCorrespondent IIJuly 8, 2016

The New York Knicks are a legitimate championship contenders with their trio of Chauncy Billups, Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire intact for at least one more season (or part of one).  

The Knicks were swept by the Boston Celtics in last season's first round of the playoffs, a disappointing end to a season full of the drama surrounding Anthony.  

While the Knicks have one of the NBA's best trios, they lack a legitimate center to complement Stoudemire and lack depth behind most of their starters.  

Landry Fields emerged as a legit starting shooting guard later in the season playing well alongside the team's stars.  Ronny Turiaf played hard but is more suited to a backup role while Shawne Williams and Toney Douglas were strong contributors off the bench.  Rookie Iman Shumpert is a defensive specialist who can make a strong contribution off the bench as well.  

One of the team's major weaknesses last season was the lack of a strong big man in the paint to rebound, defend and block shots.  

Enter Nene.  

Nene has been one of the most productive and consistent centers in the league the past few seasons and played well for the Nuggets after they traded Anthony at the trade deadline.  

He is a strong rebounder and a solid post scorer along with being athletic enough to move around in the paint on offense and defense.  

He posted averages of 14.5 PPG and 7.6 RPG last season and improved his rebounding average to 9.0 in the playoffs against the Thunder.  He would instantly solve the Knicks' center dilemma and is athletic enough to play in Mike D'Antoni's fast-paced style.  

While the Knicks have their sights set on acquiring Chris Paul, signing Nene would eliminate the possibility of signing Paul as a free agent.  They could use him as trade bait, however, along with some of their other young players.  A package including Nene and others such as Fields, Shumpert, Billups and/or draft pick(s) may be enough to entice the Hornets to trade Paul.  

Either way it is a win-win for the Knicks as they either end up with one of the better centers in the league to complement Anthony and Stoudemire, or pull off the blockbuster trade and have one of, if not the best, trio in the game by adding CP3 to the mix as well.