How does Marcus Smart's latest injury affect his free agency?

First things first! As I write this, Marcus Smart has been diagnosed with a torn tendon in his right thumb, suffered during a March 11 loss to the Pacers. We are still waiting for an update on a second opinion that he is pursuing. One of the questions is whether or not the tear is complete or partial. A complete tear would require surgery and a lengthy recovery, possibly for the remainder of the season. Even a partial tear would be a problem since Marcus plays every game like it is his last, and a weakened hand may suffer further damage. Neither possibility sounds promising.

The situation brings up another question relative to Smart's free agency this off-season. He is unquestionably a tough, intense, elite defender and an able ball-handler and distributor. But his offense has been wildly erratic until recently. His inconsistent offense and previous self-inflicted hand injury from punching a picture frame no doubt lowered his potential market value in free agency, but his play, both defensively and offensively has been superior since the All-Star break.

The problem is that Marcus, because of the thumb injury, never had the chance to keep his streak going. As a consequence, other teams may feel that he remains a liability on offense as well as an injury risk, thereby lowering offers to Smart as an unrestricted free agent.

If offers from rival teams hover in the 8-12 million range, there is a high probability that Danny Ainge will match the offer to keep Marcus in the Celtics fold or to involve him in an off-season trade. That almost certainly would not happen if the rival offers ended up in the high-teens. There are almost always silver linings to negative happenings. Smart's injury may allow the Celtics, in the end, to retain his valuable services or to at least not allow him to walk away with nothing coming back in return. The next update on Smart's injury and prognosis will tell us a lot.

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