Alfonzo McKinnie could be worth bringing back for the Lakers this summer, even if they’ll also certainly look for upgrades.
Welcome to our annual Lakers season in review series, where we’ll be taking a look back at every player on the team’s roster this season, evaluating their play, and deciding if they should be a part of the organization’s future. Today, we take a closer look at Alfonzo McKinnie.
How did he play?
Not a lot. McKinnie only played in 39 games for the Lakers, averaging just 6.6 minutes per appearance. He got most of his time while the team was ravaged by injuries midseason, and while he was hardly a game-changer, he did shoot 51.6% from the field and 41% from three (albeit on 16-39 shooting for the latter number, which is hardly a large sample size).
And even during the stretch where he played in 13 of 15 games during March and April, McKinnie still only averaged 3.8 points per game on 2.9 shots, and only scored in double-figures four times this season.
Still, McKinnie played a bit better than one might expect for a player that spent most of the year warming the bench. He didn’t necessarily acquit himself well enough to warrant knocking anyone else out of the rotation, but he was totally fine, and maybe even a bit above par for what one would expect from a player of his standing, and one who was essentially a trade throw-in for the Lakers to dump JaVale McGee’s salary. It’s easy to see why he’s been able to stick around the fringes of the NBA as break-glass-in-case-of-emergency depth.
What is his contract situation moving forward?
McKinnie is technically under contract for two more seasons at approximately $2 million annually, but both years are non-guaranteed. The Lakers could waive him this summer with no cap space hit, or trade him as salary ballast to a team looking to cut costs by getting a guaranteed contract off their books in exchange for one they could cut with no cost attached.
Should he be back?
Honestly, one could make the case either way. If the Lakers want to include McKinnie in a larger deal with Kyle Kuzma or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s $13 million contracts as salary ballast to get another impact player, that could be a smart move. But if the team surveys the market and doesn’t find that type of upgrade, keeping him could be just fine too.
The Lakers are going to have an extremely expensive team this season almost no matter how free agency shakes out, so keeping a relatively cheap depth player — who they could cut later if they needed to in order to make room for buyout additions — could make some sense, especially since McKinnie has shown he can credibly play, even if he’s also clearly not an every-game player. He’s a decent defender who at 28 still has young-ish legs, and could stand in if the Lakers decide they need to rest some veterans next year. For a 12th-15th man, he provides decent value, even if he’s probably not going to give them much more than that.