The Chicago Bulls have opted to waive forward Alfonzo McKinnie in the wake of news that the organization plans to sign veteran big man Tristan Thompson, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
The Chicago Bulls are waiving forward Alfonzo McKinnie, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. The move creates roster space for signing of Tristan Thompson. McKinnie played 17 games for Bulls this season – and now will be playoff-eligible to join a new team.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 19, 2022
McKinnie first joined the Bulls in early December on a hardship waiver during the team’s COVID outbreak. He went on to sign one more 10-day deal before the organization waived Alize Johnson on December 26th to hand McKinnie a full-time roster spot. The forward looked like he might carve himself out a small role for thanks to his 6’8″ frame and improved downtown shooting ability, however, by the time late January rolled around, a McKinnie sighting became rare.
The 29-year-old has only appeared in three of the Bulls’ last 13 games, averaging a mere 2.3 minutes per appearance. With that being the case, it quickly felt like McKinnie might become the odd man out in any post-trade-deadline acquisition for the Bulls, and we now know that’s exactly the case with Thompson on his way.
Again, McKinnie showed potential in his first handful of games with the team, but there is no question Thompson will be a significant improvement in that roster spot. He’s someone who should immediately find his way into the Bulls rotation and provide much-needed minutes in the frontcourt as a rim-protector and proven rebounder. Don’t get me wrong, I initially liked the idea of what McKinnie brought to this roster, but it became clear by his lack of playing time in recent weeks that head coach Billy Donovan and Co. failed to see what they needed to.
Also, while I understand that some may point to Matt Thomas as the player who should have gotten the boot, it’s evident that this front office likes his specialist skillset. He’s shot 38.4 percent from deep on the season, and we can all understand how coveted shooting is in today’s league.
All we can do now is wait for the Bulls’ official announcement on the Thompson signing. It’s only a matter of time before he’s in Chicago and on the floor for this team, and that continues to feel like a significant win after a quiet deadline.