Did the Los Angeles Lakers get a steal in the JaVale McGee trade?

Alfonzo McKinnie’s acquisition went under the radar in the McGee trade, but he might be not just a passer-by for the Los Angeles Lakers.

When the Los Angeles Lakers knew they were in the sweepstakes for center Marc Gasol, Rob Pelinka acted to obtain the necessary cap space to make him a sizable offer.

Once again he delivered for his championship team, engineering a trade that sent JaVale McGee‘s $4 million contract and a 2026 second-round draft pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Alfonzo McKinnie and Jordan Bell.

The Lakers were thus able to lure the Spanish big man away from Toronto and to contend for another championship in Los Angeles.

The trade was purely intended to free the space to sign Gasol, regardless of what came in return. As long as it gave the Lakers the necessary financial flexibility, whatever the Cavaliers would send back was fine for Pelinka. So the Cavs decided to package two irrelevant players on low-salary contracts.

But one of them, in particular, might not be so irrelevant for the purple and gold.

It has been pointed out how the Lakers would probably need to deepen their wing rotation with the remaining roster spots after all the big signing they made this offseason. But they have very little financial flexibility left to accomplish that, with only the veteran minimum to offer.

Well, they might not be in such dire necessity after all.

Alfonzo McKinnie is a super athletic 3&D who played an important role a little bit more than a year ago as a role piece for the defending champion Golden State Warriors. He had never been a leading player in the game of basketball, even in college, and yet he earned a roster spot on the Warriors and almost immediately a stable spot in Steve Kerr‘s rotation.

His three-point shooting and defense made him a reliable piece off the bench for the Dubs.

Being waived at the end of that season, he was picked up by Cleveland, and they were so convinced on him to offer a low-cap-impact four-year contract. Although he did not receive as much playing time as in Golden State, and his shooting numbers were not great, his playing remained solid.

McKinnie is a player who had to make his way to the league and he knows how much hard work it takes. He understands what it means to fight for a roster spot, coming from playing in unknown European leagues, to G League through paid auditions, to non-guaranteed contracts in the NBA. He is a hard worker who has to earn every little bit in his career and would never take what he is given for granted.

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Despite a low three-point percentage last year, his stroke is solid, and he proved it in Golden State, where he shot 35.6 percent. But he does not only shoots the three. As a 28-year-old athlete, Alfonzo is also an explosive driver and super bouncy around the rim. These diversified offensive qualities make him a bigger threat than just a shooter.

His athleticism is also what allows him to be a very good defender.

The Lakers might have got a very good player in a trade designed to just dump a contract. Receiving high praise from Steve Kerr and becoming a rotation player with such little NBA experience on a dominant contending team like the Warriors were means definitely something.

McKinnie is in his prime and he has the papers in order to be that wing help the Lakers need, giving a valuable contribution. The three-point shooting and the defense are there, the fit with the system looks natural and he is on a low-figure contract LA can afford.

Given that they already waived Jordan Bell but held on Alfonzo, all signs point to the fact that he will be part of the team this upcoming season and will be given the chance to earn a regular spot in the rotations, hopefully contributing to their championship run.