When the Los Angeles Lakers were dealing with a multitude of injuries throughout the regular season, it opened up opportunities for seldom-used players on the roster to make an impact. One player who took full advantage and always seemed to be a positive force was wing Alfonzo McKinnie.
Known primarily as a defender throughout his career so far, McKinnie also showed himself to be an excellent offensive rebounder and even shot a career-high 41% from 3-point range.
Even though it was only his fourth season in the league, McKinnie has a ton of experience at the highest level, playing a role on the Golden State Warriors’ 2019 championship team. But one thing he was not used to was playing in empty arenas, which McKinnie admitted was very different.
“For me it was definitely, definitely a little weird not having fans, but I have been in situations where I’ve played in games with no fans so I’ve experienced it,” McKinnie said. “But speaking for the other guys I think a lot of other guys they never experienced that and it can be an energy drainer in a sense, you’re just so used to playing in big crowds of people and you come back and it’s empty. Kind of depressing to a sense.”
There was undoubtedly an adjustment period to playing inside empty arenas for many players. Often times those home crowds can provide an energy boost to the home team and being without them completely changes the atmosphere inside the arena. Getting them back in Staples Center was definitely something McKinnie and the rest of the Lakers were excited to have.
“But I was just happy that we were able to get fans in at some point this year. Lakers fans, you know, great fans and I know they was excited to be able to get back in and see some live basketball and yeah, I was happy we was able to get them back in.”
Having fans back in arenas across the NBA was a milestone moment this season for the NBA as a whole and now next year, things will be back to normal which means Lakers fans will be filling up Staples Center all season long.
Lakers expected to ‘explore’ availability of Kyle Lowry
As it currently stands, McKinnie is one of just six Lakers with a contract for the 2021-22 season, though his is the only one that is non-guaranteed so it is unclear whether or not he will return next season. But with so much up in the air, and following a first-round playoff exit, the Lakers are expected to explore all possibilities in improving their roster.
That includes a possibility the team looked at closely ahead of the NBA trade deadline in veteran point guard Kyle Lowry. It was recently reported that the Lakers are expected to explore the availability of Lowry this summer, which would have to be some sort of sign-and-trade.
After coming up short, this season, the Lakers will definitely look long and hard at any possibility of making this major move.
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