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NBA free agency and the importance of priorities

Ryan Denison is the Senior Fellow for Theology at Denison Forum, where he contributes writing and research to many of the ministry’s productions.

He is in the final stages of earning his PhD in church history at BH Carroll Theological Institute after having earned his MDiv at Truett Seminary. Ryan has also taught at BH Carroll and Dallas Baptist University.

He and his wife, Candice, live in East Texas and have two children.

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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.

Yet, at least with Aldridge and Jordan, there are more personal motivations as well. Each is from Texas and many NBA insiders believe that they would like to play closer to home and family. As a result, the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks are frequently mentioned as potential landing spots for the two big men. Personally, I think the Mavericks are clearly the best choice for both but there have been those that have questioned my objectivity in the past when it comes to the Dallas teams…though I still can’t understand why…

Ultimately, the deciding factor will likely be the priorities of each player and those can be hard to discern from the outside. For those that want a secure payday, remaining with their current teams is the best option. For Aldridge and Jordan, if they value playing closer to home the most, they will likely join one of the Texas teams. Others nearing the ends of their careers might take less money to play on a contender in the hopes of winning a championship before their time is done.

Our priorities dictate a great deal of the choices we make in life and the Bible frequently speaks to their importance. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus commands us to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” promising that when we do the rest of life’s concerns will fall into place (Matt. 6:33). Similarly, the ancient Jews were instructed to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deut. 6:5). It was their most important command and Jesus echoed its prominence by calling it “the first and greatest commandment” (Matt. 22:38, NIV).

God’s word is clear that our lives run best when God is our top priority. I don’t know to what extent each of this year’s free agents will prioritize God’s guidance in making their decisions but the scriptures are clear that nothing should be a more important factor. The same is true for each of us as well and it becomes far easier to hear and understand his guidance when we make it a habit to walk with him every day.

So where do you need the Lord’s guidance today? Whatever looming decision you may be facing, remember that the first step in God’s direction will always be to make him the top priority in your life as it’s only when he holds that place of importance that he can direct the rest of your path. So seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, trusting that when you do so by loving him with all that you are, he will direct you into the center of his will and there is no more secure or satisfying place for us to be.

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