Boston Celtics: Why Matt Ryan and Sam Hauser make a Kevin Durant trade possible

Sharpshooters like Matt Ryan and Sam Houser, who cost little and demand few offensive touches, make a Boston Celtics trade for Kevin Durant possible (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
Sharpshooters like Matt Ryan and Sam Houser, who cost little and demand few offensive touches, make a Boston Celtics trade for Kevin Durant possible (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /

The NBA offseason is in an unsettling waiting period right now as the league’s two biggest dominoes, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, await resolutions to their trade demands. For the Boston Celtics, their offseason may just be complete. That is, if Boston Celtics President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens isn’t waiting like a snake in the grass for the Brooklyn Nets to lower their price for the former — a 33-year-old All-NBA Second-Teamer this past season who tore his Achilles three years ago and remains one of the game’s most unguardable players.

It’s possible that a Durant pursuit is still possible for Boston, though the Cs aren’t one of the teams currently being linked to the forward. The Toronto Raptors remain engaged in trade talks but are hesitant to relinquish Scottie Barnes while the Phoenix Suns are busy configuring a Deandre Ayton sign-and-trade to the Indiana Pacers.

Once the Celtics want to enter the trade conversation, they would be able to trump any offer another team could make via the inclusion of Jaylen Brown. Brown is an already established star that could immediately step in and become a franchise’s No. 1 option, something Barnes nor anyone included in Phoenix’s potential offers (Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Landry Shamet) is capable of. Furthermore, Boston can clinch any deal with the inclusion of Marcus Smart, who is by far the best potential supporting piece in any Durant package.

Assuming Brown and Smart is the starting point for a Durant deal, you may be asking yourself how the Celtics would be able to contend with the pieces still left on the roster. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst has addressed that supposed ‘gulf’ between what teams are willing to give up/keep on their roster post-deal and what the Nets want back in return:

"“We have a pretty gigantic gulf between what the Nets’ value of Kevin Durant is and what the market is willing to pay. Again, this requires some nuance and I know that this potentially will be taken out of that context…the market does not want to pay a super premium price for him because if you trade away all of these top assets on your team to get him, he becomes less valuable to you. And that gulf is why we’re in a stalemate right now and could have one for a while.”"

The Celtics are one of the few teams capable of paying a premium in any Durant trade arrangement while also maintaining a potential title-winning roster on the other side of a multi-player deal. The reason for that? Summer League finds like Matt Ryan and Sam Hauser.

Why Matt Ryan and Sam Hauser make a Kevin Durant trade possible for the Boston Celtics

For those that are unaware of the sharpshooting Boston Celtics wing duo, the Houdini is here to fill you in. Both were five-year collegiate athletes that converted their 3-point attempts at an above average clip and spent time at multiple schools.

Ryan’s journey has been quite unorthodox. Famously working as a DoorDash driver during the COVID-19 pandemic, the 25-year-old worked his way from being undrafted in the 2020 NBA Draft, splitting time his rookie season (2021-22) in the G League playing for both Denver’s Grand Rapids Gold and Boston’s Maine Celtics and appearing in the C’s regular season finale after signing a two-way contract with the Celtics’ pro team at the end of last season. Ryan was on the bench for their run to the Eastern Conference championship, but his claim to fame is recently leading the Boston Celtics Summer League team to their first win this July with a thrilling 111-109 triumph over the Milwaukee Bucks via a buzzer-beating 25-foot triple-teamed 3-pointer (his sixth of the game) — with his team trailing by a single point.

As for Hauser, his story is a bit more traditional. The Virginia product (who originally attended Marquette his first three seasons) was signed as an undrafted free agent last July and spent his first season on a two-way contract, splitting time between Boston and Maine. He played 26 games and played throughout the postseason in garbage minutes.

Considering the inexperience of these two players, you may be left wondering why they’d be justification for the Boston Celtics butchering their depth and grabbing an aging superstar at the price of two of their top three contributors. Well, let’s open up our imaginations for a second.

Should the Cs use Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart as primary trade chips for Kevin Durant, the starting lineup would shift away from the double bigs in favor of a Durant-Jayson Tatum-Robert Williams/Al Horford frontcourt. Whoever gets the bump from the first five between Horford and Williams moves to the sixth man role. In the backcourt, Smart would be replaced by Malcolm Brogdon, while Derrick White becomes the starting shooting guard. That is, unless you want to keep White as a second-unit facilitator. In that case, you shift either Ryan or Hauser into the starting lineup.

Now, you may have gotten this far and might still wonder why two undrafted one-dimensional players with are suddenly being thrust into the starting lineup. And to that, the Houdini asks: who are the ideal fits to surround two dominant isolation shooters with? The answer is knock-down shooters.

With two stars owning a usage percentage north of 30%, Boston will need to figure out how to alleviate the pressure defenses will be throwing at them. Ryan and Hauser are the types of microwave long-range snipers that Durant has proven capable of winning a championship with before. And while no, C’s Summer League wing duo will never be the ‘Splash Bros’, they don’t have to be. They just have to space the floor for two of this generation’s best scoring options in an offense that’d be nearly impossible to defend if the pair can play their roles to perfection.

Next. Second-year Celtic could push for big minutes in 2022-23. dark