McKinney also coached Carolina Cougars of the American Basketball Association from 1969 through 1971. He coached them to a 42-42 record during the 1969-1970 season, good for third place in the East Division. The Cougars then lost in the first round of the 1970 ABA playoffs to the Indiana Pacers, 4 games to 0. As the 1970-71 season got under way, McKinney was named a vice president of the team. After a 17-25 start, halfway through the season McKinney was replaced as head coach by his assistant coach Jerry Steele. Steele also went 17-25 for the remainder of the season for a 34-50 record that failed to get the Cougars into the 1971 ABA playoffs. During the 1970-71 season, McKinney provided color commentary for the television broadcast of the 1971 ABA All Star Game. Subsequently McKinney would have a long and successful career as a color analyst for television broadcasts of ACC basketball games.
McKinney's picture hangs in the North Carolina History Museum's North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame and one of his basketball jerseys is also displayed there.