Alfonzo McKinnie's "biggest dream come true" will continue.
Sunday morning, the Chicago Bulls signed the hometown product to a contract after waiving forward Alize Johnson.
Shortly after the signing, the team also said McKinnie landed in the league's health and safety protocols, slightly delaying the storybook continuation.
The move gives Johnson, whose deal didn't become fully guaranteed until Jan. 7, an opportunity to find work elsewhere after early-season playing time dried up for him. And it keeps McKinnie, who played locally at Curie and Marshall High Schools, in the fold after he originally arrived via hardship exception on Dec. 10, signing 10-day contracts that day and on Dec. 20.
“I’m a West Side kid. I grew up like 10, 15 minutes down the way. House was a Bulls house. Watched the Bulls growing up," McKinnie memorably said after he posted 16 points, five rebounds and a block in the recent victory over the Rockets. "So just being able to compete on the highest stage in my hometown, on my favorite side of the city, the West Side, it’s been surreal to be honest. Just putting that jersey on has been everything for me.”
McKinnie, who has played in the NBA Finals for the Golden State Warriors, arrived via the Mexico City Capitanes of the G League. He gives the Bulls another athletic wing option whose 3-point shooting has improved. With three Bulls appearances under his belt, he is averaging 8 points and 2.3 rebounds while shooting 50 percent from 3-point range (four attempts per game).
Johnson averaged 1.8 points and 2.3 rebounds over 16 games. He initially showed strong promise as an active rebounder, particularly at the offensive end, but coach Billy Donovan began opting for different rotational choices.
The Bulls still can open a roster spot between now and the Feb. 10 trade deadline if they want by waiving Matt Thomas and his non-guaranteed deal. Extra roster spots can be valuable during trade season as they allow teams to execute uneven trades in which they receive more players than they send out. However, the Bulls must also balance luxury tax and hard cap concerns.