What to know about Kelan Martin and Malik Fitts, new Celtics signees


The Celtics have several open roster spots.

Indiana Pacers’ Kelan Martin dribbles during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Charlotte Hornets. AP Photo / Darron Cummings

The Celtics added a pair of players on Tuesday, signing Kelan Martin and Malik Fitts to 10-day contracts, according to Shams Charania.

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 who is on a two-way deal.

Neither Martin nor Fitts is particularly well-known – Martin has played in just 93 games for his career including 27 this year, and Fitts has played in just 10. So who are they? Here’s a closer look.

Kelan Martin

1. Martin already has a connection to the franchise: His college recruitment began with Brad Stevens, who spoke to Martin about Butler shortly before he departed for the Celtics in 2013 according to the Indy Star. Brandon Miller picked up where Stevens left off, and Martin remained at Butler after Miller went on medical leave.

Martin was a star at Butler, averaging 21.2 points and 6.3 rebounds per game 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. On the court, Martin – who is 6-foot-7 with an absurd 7-foot-3 wingspan – can do a little bit of a lot of things. He isn’t an elite athlete, but his length by him helps make up the difference especially on the defensive end, and he’s solidly built. His 3-point shooting of him has been spotty in uneven NBA minutes, but he spaced the floor at a decent clip in college and makes plenty of free-throws to suggest he could space the floor.

Martin does fit a mold for the Celtics – a potentially versatile prospect who can do a little bit of a lot of things. It’s not hard to see why Brad 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 former Celtics star Rajon Rondo came up with the nickname. Martin’s father, Kenneth, was a collegiate basketball and a local basketball coach, and he coached Rondo. Martin attended basketball camp at Kentucky, where the Indy Star reported Rondo “kept an eye on the kid called ‘Baby Shaq.'”

Does that mean Rondo coined the nickname? Unclear, but the nickname is pretty funny given that Martin is almost nothing like Shaquille O’Neal.

Malik Fitts

1. A California native, Fitts attended Brewster Academy in New Hampshire – one of the strongest 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 quick glance at Fitts’ scouting report does not suggest a player who would be available to the Celtics on a 10-day contract. He’s 6-foot-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.

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 of him is Future, which makes one wonder how “Mask Off” would sound with a clarinet instead of a flute.

In any case, Fitts is multi-talented.

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