When the Los Angeles Lakers traded JaVale McGee to the Cleveland Cavaliers in order to make room for Marc Gasol, they received Alfonzo McKinnie and Jordan Bell in exchange. Bell was immediately waived, but the Lakers surprisingly held on to McKinnie.
McKinnie spent most of the 2020-21 season on the bench because of the talent and depth of Los Angeles’ roster, but he did appear in 40 games, albeit mostly in garbage time. Although he played sparingly, McKinnie was able to learn from LeBron James and Anthony Davis and for any young player that is an invaluable experience.
In the 40 games McKinnie played, he averaged 3.1 points and 1.4 rebounds but did shoot 41 percent from the 3-point line on one attempt per game. The forward did not get a chance to play many meaningful minutes but had a knack for making a highlight play here and there.
The Lakers’ blowouts were really the only time McKinnie was able to get playing time but in those games where he got more than 10 minutes, he made the most of them. For example, in their win against the Houston Rockets McKinnie was able to record 10 points, five rebounds and two steals in under 17 minutes of action.
Another notable outing was in the loss against the Sacramento Kings where he scored a season-high 11 points in about 16 minutes.
With the Lakers enduring so many injuries to the main rotation, head coach Frank Vogel was able to get McKinnie an extended look in their road win against the Brooklyn Nets. McKinnie played a season-high 27 minutes and contributed 10 points, nine rebounds, four assists and a steal. He knocked down two of his four 3-point attempts and showed his propensity for attacking the offensive boards as he came down with three of them.
The Nets were without James Harden and saw Kyrie Irving get ejected early in the third quarter, but McKinnie was a spark for a Lakers team that was able to earn a much-needed win.
McKinnie is one of the few Lakers who are under contract for the 2021-22 season, but his deal is entirely non-guaranteed until the middle of the year. McKinnie will likely be warming the end of the bench again and may end up as salary ballast in a trade once his contract is guaranteed.
McKinnie has some interesting traits that might warrant a look on a rebuilding team, but unfortunately the Purple and Gold are all-in on a championship, which means he will have to settle for a minimal role.
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