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Report: Celtics to sign Malik Fitts

Fitts had been with the Celtics on back-to-back 10-day contracts.

Toronto Raptors beat the Utah Jazz 122-108 with crowd restrictions because of surging COVID-19 cases in Ontario Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The Boston Celtics continue to make moves on the fringes of their roster, shoring up open spots that were left vacant after a flurry of trade deadline deals. Over the past few weeks, Malik Fitts and Kelan Martin have both been with the team on consecutive 10-day contracts.

It would seem that Fitts has done enough to impress the coaching staff and earn himself a full-time gig with the Celtics, as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the sophomore forward has signed a short-term deal to remain with the team. Initial reporting suggests that Fitts’ deal will run until the end of the 2022-23 season, with next season being only partially guaranteed.

Both Martin and Fitts’ second 10-day contracts expired on March 15, and after 20-days worth of data, it seems that Fitts won the competition for a permanent roster spot. At 6’8’’ and with a collegiate career that suggests a reliable outside shot, Fitts’ fills Brad Stevens mantra of adding “shooting with size.”

In 95 collegiate games, Fitts shot 39.2% from deep on 4 attempts per game, and in his limited sample size at the NBA level, has shown flashes that his jumper is translatable to the next level. The California native has participated in 12 games across his first year-and-a-half in the NBA and has hit 37.5% of his threes, albeit on just 3-of-8 shooting.

Fitts is also seen as an engaged defender who uses his size and mobility to guard his yard. In July 2020, Wes Morton of Peach Tree Hoops released a scouting report of the St. Mary’s product and had this to say about his defensive upside.

“It’s incredibly difficult to push him off his spot on the court on either end. There are many examples of him preventing an entry pass to the post by simply commanding his defensive position with lower body strength. Even when the pass gets there, Fitts takes it upon himself to limit the operating space and force smaller guys to kick it out of the post.”

Udoka and Stevens have been deliberate in the players the team has acquired this season, with a clear focus on defensive versatility. If Fitts can lean into a swing-forward role for the Celtics, he may find himself on the fringes of the rotation, especially if he embraces the physical aspect of the game.

Kelan Martin will now return to the NBA’s free agency pool and will be available to sign with another team.