The Celtics added a pair of forwards Wednesday, signing Kelan Martin and Malik Fitts to 10-day contracts.
Both Martin and Fitts have a real opportunity with the Celtics, who had three open roster spots after converting two-way forward Sam Hauser to a full-time deal. The Celtics now have 15 players under contract, including Brodric Thomas on a two-way deal.
Neither player is particularly well-known; Martin has played in just 93 games, including 27 this year, and Fitts has played in just 10. So who are they? Here’s a closer look.
1. Martin already has a connection to the franchise: His college recruitment began with Brad Stevens, who spoke to Martin about Butler shortly before departing for the Celtics in 2013, according to the Indianapolis Star. Brandon Miller took over as coach when Stevens left, and Martin remained at Butler even after Miller went on medical leave.
Martin was a star at Butler, averaging 21.2 points and 6.3 rebounds his senior season. He was a finalist for the Julius Erving Award, given to the nation’s top small forward.
After a season in Germany, Martin signed a two-way deal with the Timberwolves and has been bouncing between NBA stints ever since.
2. Martin, who is 6 feet 5 inches with a 7-3 wingspan, isn’t an elite athlete, but his length helps make up for that, especially on the defensive end, and he’s solidly built.
His 3-point shooting has been spotty in uneven NBA minutes, but he spaced the floor at a decent clip in college and makes plenty of free throws.
Martin is a potentially versatile prospect who can do a little bit of a lot of things. It’s not hard to see why Stevens likes him.
3. After the Celtics signed Martin, several Twitter users noted his nickname: “Baby Shaq,” per Basketball-Reference.
The origin is unclear, but one Internet rumor suggests that former Celtics star Rajon Rondo came up with the nickname. Martin’s father, Kenneth, played at Kentucky Wesleyan and coached Rondo in middle school. Martin attended basketball camp at the University of Kentucky, where the Indy Star reported that Rondo “kept an eye on the kid called ‘Baby Shaq.’ ”
Does that mean Rondo coined the nickname? Unclear, but it is pretty funny given that Martin is almost nothing like Shaquille O’Neal.
1. A California native, Fitts attended Brewster Academy in New Hampshire — one of the New England prep school powerhouses — prior to his collegiate career. He played one season at South Florida before transferring to Saint Mary’s.
“Go somewhere where you’re wanted,” Fitts told the Rookie Wire in 2020. “Go somewhere that can fit you. Don’t worry about all the big hype like the big-name school because if you really put in the work and it shows on the court, they’re going to find you. Teams, anybody at a professional level, will find you. Work as hard as you can and you’ll see the results.”
2. A glance at Fitts’s scouting report does not suggest a player who would be available to the Celtics on a 10-day contract. He’s 6-8 and 220 pounds, he can space the floor — Fitts told the Rookie Wire that he sees himself primarily as a catch-and-shoot player — and he’s an excellent athlete.
Malik Fitts my word pic.twitter.com/EgyCY7s8Sj— Mike Rutherford (@CardChronicle) February 7, 2020
The knocks on Fitts coming into the draft were his defense against perimeter players and his decision-making. If he can sit down in a stance and slide his feet, the 24-year-old could have an NBA career.
3. Fitts played drums in church growing up and told Rookie Wire he played clarinet in high school. He also said his favorite artist is Future, which makes one wonder how “Mask Off” would sound with a clarinet instead of a flute.
In any case, Fitts is multitalented.