Celtics sign Coty Clarke to 10-day contract

WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics signed 6-foot-7 forward Coty Clarke to a 10-day contract Monday, filling the team's final available roster spot.

Clarke, who spent time with the Celtics in training camp, has played for the Maine Red Claws as an affiliated player this season. In 39 appearances with Maine, Clarke is averaging 16.1 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.2 steals over 26 minutes per game. He's been particularly good over Maine's last nine games, averaging 24.2 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.7 steals over 29.5 minutes per game, and the Red Claws own a 7-2 mark in that span.

"First and foremost, as I told our team [Monday], he was by no means given a 10-day. He was rewarded [for] his great play [in Maine]," said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. "He really has played great. Our front office has been thrilled about him and thrilled about his play in Maine the whole year. We obviously have a familiarity with him from being here in the fall and so we thought it was a great opportunity to bring a guy on board while we have some practice time to really get a chance to evaluate him within our system, with our team, as the season has progressed.

"He’s kind of an undersized shooting forward and so we’ll see how it all goes from there. But he’s had a really nice year.”

The 23-year-old Clarke, who played collegiately at Arkansas, ranked fourth in the D-League in player efficiency rating (PER) and ninth in total rebounds, according to Basketball-Reference. More notable is his advanced stats, with a net rating of plus-12.7 points per 100 possessions this season (113.2 offensive rating, 100.6 defensive).

Clarke, who joined the team for Monday's practice, is eager to prove he deserves a call-up -- regardless of how brief -- to the NBA level.

Asked what he wants to prove during his 10 days, Clarke answered, "That [the Celtics] made the right decision by bringing me into training camp, putting me down the D-League, and showing that I can play at this level. Just showing that, 'Hey I'm here, I'm ready to work and you got a guy that you should keep.'"

Clarke's D-League play had generated some buzz around the league. What's more, the Celtics have often rewarded players that took less money to come to camp with them and play in the D-League rather than seek a bigger payday by playing overseas.

Maine coaches told Clarke about his call-up after a lopsided win over Westchester in which he was plus-35 in plus/minus over only 24 minutes of floor time. A 3-and-D guy whose most notable attribute might be his ability to rebound the ball, Clarke is eager to showcase his skill set, even if just in the practice setting against Boston's younger players.

"Energy and effort," Clarke said when asked what he brings. "Help guys get better each and every day, and bring that toughness that this team likes to play with."

Clarke added that he's not expecting playing time -- and there's always the chance he could be assigned back to the Claws during his 10 day to maintain game reps -- but knows there's a chance to catch the eye of the parent club over the next 10 days.

"I'm just here to get better," said Clarke. "Whatever [Stevens] throws at me, I'm willing to take on and take advantage of the opportunity."

Added Clarke: "At the end of the day, it's all work. I was happy and glad I got the call, but now it's right back to work. It's just another step, another goal. I'm thankful for the opportunity and thankful they came and got me."

Celtics third-year big man Kelly Olynyk took note of Clarke during his time with the team in the preseason.

"Great kid, I've been following him in the D-League, obviously with Maine, and he's been putting up some great numbers down there not only shooting the ball well but rebounding and passing the ball well," said Olynyk. "Double-digit assists the other night. So he's a great guy, a really really tough worker, hard worker, and he's a great guy to have around."

Added Marcus Smart: "I've actually played with Coty in summer league and everything, so I've been around Coty. What I've seen in him is just his aggressiveness and his ability to come in and do things right. He's very versatile, too, so that's another uniqueness that Coty has. He's been playing very well and he's earned a spot up here."

Asked about the Celtics signing Clarke rather than a more high profile name for their final available spot, Stevens noted, "It’s as much of a reward for good play and the fact that he’s going to be considered at this level as a player, which is really a credit to him."