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NBA free agency and the importance of priorities

DeAndre Jordan watches while a teammate answers a question from a reporter during the Los Angeles Clippers Media Day, September 29, 2014 (Credit: Panoramic/Icon Sportswire) The 2015 NBA free agency period officially starts at 12:01 EST Wednesday morning. Usually, the period is comprised of a lot of talk and very little action. Players can sign longer contracts for more money with their current teams so it's rare to see a high profile free agent actually sign elsewhere. However, that might change this year. While LeBron James and Marc Gasol appear to be locks to stay with the Cavs and Grizzlies respectively, other legitimately great players like LaMarcus Aldridge and DeAndre Jordan are thought to be better than even bets to don a different jersey next year.

One reason why many expect them to sign elsewhere is the rise in league revenues that will be generated by the new TV deal that kicks in next season. Because the cap is based on total revenues, the NBA projects that it will rise more than $20 million dollars in 2016 and continue to grow from there. Consequently, players have a financial incentive not to sign the long term deals that so often lead to them staying with their old teams in order to become free agents again when they can make far more. While such a choice presents some risk, as a severe or career-threatening injury could derail those hopes of a larger future contract, it will still be an enticing option for many players.

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Did Johnson's U.S. Open loss overshadow Spieth's win?

Dustin Johnson three putts the 18th hole during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Chambers Bay on Sunday, June 21, 2015 in University Place, Washington (Credit: AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi) The U.S. Open has the well-earned reputation of often being among the most difficult majors in the PGA. It is often played on the most treacherous and bunker-filled courses in the country and this year's tournament was no different. For more on the course, see Mark Cook's The U.S. Open and facing life's challenges.

However, while bunkers, narrow fairways, and unpredictable winds made Chamber's Bay difficult, it was the poor conditions on most of the greens that quickly became the main story. The problem was that many of the greens were composed of two different types of grass, neither of which had responded overly well to the Pacific Northwest's unusually dry climate recently. As a result, the ball would change speed and direction without warning as it transitioned from one type to the next. Some players even went so far as to compare it to putting on broccoli, though Rory McIlroy, the top ranked player in the world, was quick to point out that it bore a closer resemblance to cauliflower as at least broccoli was green.

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The U.S. Open and facing life’s challenges

Bubba Watson hits a drive on the 5th tee during round 1 at the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, University Place, Washington, June 18, 2015 (Credit: AP/Cal Sport Media/George Holland) Billy Graham once said: "The only time my prayers are never answered is on the golf course." If you've ever picked up a club, you know the feeling. Few sports run the range of ecstasy and exasperation like golf, with the joy of a well-hit shot being completely overshadowed by your next one's plunk into the water.

Summer is the season of golf's major tournaments. April's Masters tournament in Augusta, Georgia kicks off the succession of majors that follow in June, July and August. The U.S. Open is this week, with the British Open coming in July and the PGA Championship rounding out the 2015 majors in August.

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LeBron James: NBA Finals MVP?

The Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James, left, has his drive to the basket cut off by the Golden State Warriors' Andre Iguodala during the first quarter in Game 4 of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland on Thursday, June 11, 2015 (Credit: Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire/Phil Masturzo)The 2015 NBA Finals concluded this past Tuesday night when the Golden State Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 105-97 in Game 6. Andre Iguodala was named the Finals MVP marking the first time that the award has been given to a player that did not start every game. However, many think that history should have been made in a different way. LeBron James might have played on the losing team but there are few who would argue he was not the series best player. Should that have been enough for him to win the award?

The series was a highly entertaining and closely contested mix of games, which is surprising considering the difference in overall talent each team put on the court. Yet the playoffs didn't necessarily start that way. After losing Kevin Love to a dislocated shoulder in the first round and Kyrie Irving to a fractured kneecap in the opening game of this series, LeBron James is the only member of the Cleveland starting 5 who began the year as a starter. Meanwhile Golden State played with the same core group of players all season, which was good enough to land them the top overall seed in the playoffs.

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Impressionism, coaching and listening

Water Lillies an Japanese Bridge (1897 an 1899) by Claude Monet (1840–1926) at the Princeton University Art MuseumClaude Monet is my favorite painter. I like his bright, subdued scenes because they evoke a sense of calm, tranquility, and natural beauty. Monet was part of the Impressionist movement in art, which included other now-famous names such as Degas, Manet, Pissaro, Cassatt, Cezanne, and Renoir. Most were contemporaries of each other and worked in the late 19th century.

One of the more fascinating things about the Impressionists is their connection to photography. At that time, photography was just emerging as a new way to document and preserve images. Up to that point, artists and their renderings were the only way to preserve an image of a famous person, scene, or landscape. Most artists, then, were highly trained in the realistic portrayal of these things, and while specific styles such as the Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, and Romantic ebbed and flowed in significance, their common trait is that they were largely realistic interpretations of people, scenes, and landscapes.

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