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the captain
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« Reply #100 on: August 17, 2014, 06:35:16 AM »

I wasn't thrilled by Team USA's performance last night, but I understand it must be a tough position to be in: first game against organized competition and--after training camp--suddenly no Paul George or, more importantly, Kevin Durant, who was intended to be the featured offensive player. They added Rudy Gay.

Anyway, they looked somewhat disjointed. Only 16 assists on 32 field goals, with James Harden in particular making a lot of what struck me as selfish plays, steamrolling toward the hoops come hell or high water. That said, he also had a team-high 5 assists, and he did get to the FT line 11 times (and hit all 11). So it isn't that he wasn't valuable.

Anthony Davis of the Pelicans was spectacular. He has to be one of the 10 best players in the world. Didn't take long--what, is he going into his third NBA season? Amazing. 21 years old.

Brazil had a lot of talent: NBA players Nene of Washington, Anderson Varejao of Cleveland, Tiago Splitter of San Antonio, Leandro Barbosa of Phoenix (free agent now); former NBA players Alex Garcia of San Antonio and New Orleans and Marcus Vincius of New Orleans; and potential future NBA players Raul Neto (rights held by Utah) and Marcelos Huertas, who is an older free agent but is quite good. So that's roughly eight guys with NBA connections or serious aspirations--no pushovers. But their guards especially really struggled as they tried to defend the U.S. guards, and honestly they had a hard time with U.S. pressure, too.

But while the Americans forced 16 turnovers, they committed 20, not because of Brazilian pressure so much as sloppy play in efforts to "hit home runs." I expect the U.S. team to play more fundamentally and seriously as the games start counting, saving the Globetrotters schtick for blowouts.

Up next is a game in New York against the Dominican Republic, which while obviously not a world power ranked at 26 by FIBA, is actually a program on the rise. They are coached by former Pitt star and longtime John Calipari assistant (Memphis and Kentucky) before taking the South Florida job this past March. Antigua has done a nice job getting Americans with Dominican ties--not uncommon in New York, for example--onto the roster. Among them are NBA vet Francisco Garcia, former Pitt guard Ronald Ramon, former Kentucky center/forward Elroy Vargas, St. John's forward Orlando Sanchez, and incoming freshman star center-forward Karl Towns Jr. This isn't anything near as talented as the US--or even as Brazil, for example--but it's a very much improved roster than what the Dominicans have had in the past. (It should also be a boon to Sanchez in recruiting, giving him ties to young players of Dominican descent in the U16s, U17s, U18s, etc., helping him build relationships and bring guys to South Florida.)

Then there are two more friendlies before the real games start. I think the two remaining exhibitions after the Dominicans are Finland and Slovenia.
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« Reply #101 on: August 17, 2014, 11:07:46 AM »

Speaking of Harden, there's been a lot of chatter this summer about he and Dwight Howard, and none of it has been good. I think that they're gonna have a lot of pressure on them this year. If they don't do well (even in a loaded Western Conference), they're going to hear about it. Over and over. I think for the most part people don't like Howard anyway; I know that personally, I can't stand the guy after all of the BS he pulled going back to Orlando. I don't think Houston is ever going to win anything with those guys as the 'cornerstones'.

I just saw that Shawn Marion is going to sign with Cleveland.
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« Reply #102 on: August 17, 2014, 11:28:25 AM »

Houston seems likely to regress, and while I know people like to mock McHale as a coach, I think the issue is more in the front office. Daryl Morey didn't do McHale any favors this offseason.

The Rockets lost Omer Asik, Jeremy Lin, and Chandler Parsons. That's 30-something points, 17 rebounds or so, more than 8 assists ... and that's just stats, which are obviously misleading (because a player's stats aren't just tied to that player, but to the role itself--for example, a 10 ppg scorer sent to a worse team and put into a feature role may become a 20 ppg scorer without improving at all). On the non-stat issue, you've got one of your three good defenders--Asik--gone, leaving you with only about two decent defenders (Howard and Beverly) among returnees. You've lost your only legitimate offensive point guard in Lin. And Parson truly was a do-it-all, hitting 3s, creating for others, something of a mismatch for everyone.

In return, the major additions are Trevor Ariza and draftees Clint Capela and Nick Johnson. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Ariza's great season--especially late season--were a contract year aberration. Call me a skeptic but after a few decades watching the NBA, one can see these things coming. He's a fine player, but he's an inconsistent role player in his 30s, so his athleticism will decline and hurt his defensive abilities. So you're paying an aging guy 2/3 of what you could have paid your early 20s model... great idera.

Capela is miles away from contributing from what I can see.

Johnson has moxie and some nice athleticism, but he has "reserve" written all over him, in no small part because he's a 6-2 or so off guard. Hopefully for him, the presence of ball-dominant, playmaking Harden will make that less of a problem, allowing him to work more off the ball and try to defend PGs.

But really, Harden is a matador defender (at best) and a stat-chaser. He hasn't always been, but it has gotten ugly in Houston. I had a lot of good will toward him from high school through OKC, but it's mostly gone. (Kind of like my feelings for Kevin Love, actually.) He's not the little [player] I once knew, ooh oooh oooh oooh.

So this team that is supposed to be built off of ball movement and the 3-point shot might struggle, as they have gotten worse in the shooting department, worse in the passing department (meaning it is harder to locate and get the ball to shooters), possibly questionable in the chemistry department, and worse in the defensive department, meaning it will be harder for them to get out and run.

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« Reply #103 on: August 17, 2014, 12:44:26 PM »

I don't think McHale is a bad coach; I just think that Harden is (like you said) all about the stats, and Howard isn't the type of guy who can be a leader. Personally, I think it says a lot when Chris Bosh declined to play there.
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« Reply #104 on: August 17, 2014, 12:56:20 PM »

I don't think McHale is a bad coach; I just think that Harden is (like you said) all about the stats, and Howard isn't the type of guy who can be a leader. Personally, I think it says a lot when Chris Bosh declined to play there.

True, especially when you consider that Bosh is a Texan. He would have been a perfect fit, basketball-wise, an underrated defender who covers a lot of ground, a very good shooter inside of 3 (and not bad from 3), a much-improved leader since his time with the Raptors. But he stayed in what is almost definitely a worse situation, basketball-wise. Of course he also got paid...

It's their backcourt I worry about the most: one guy can't score, one guy won't defend.
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« Reply #105 on: August 19, 2014, 03:14:30 PM »

I like football but my attention has really waned in recent years. Honestly, while I seem uber-geeky about basketball, I'm probably at about 35% geekiness in comparison to my prime. Football was never quite the same for me, but has taken a similarly or greater dive. Basketball, I'll watch anybody. Football, it's just Vikings, Gophers, and sometimes Notre Dame.

The Gophers are going to be fun this year. The schedule is really tough (rated something like 22nd most difficult in the nation), but the talent is really getting better and it seems like a program you can begin to depend on. Coach Kill's predecessor, Tim Brewster, was just a huckster. Horrible. Some decent recruiting, though a lot of the best guys didn't ever get eligible or were kicked out of the program and/or school. Kill keeps pulling in under-the-radar-to-decent recruits, but they improve. That's a huge key to college football, especially in a program that isn't going to ever attract large numbers of true blue-chippers: coaching kids up. Glen Mason (Gophers coach in the late 90s to the mid-00s) was pretty good about it, too. Brewster was just the worse. And it didn't help that we had new coordinators every single year. Adam Weber, a former QB, had five different offensive coordinators in his five years, if I'm not mistaken. Just pathetic. Coach Kill is doing a great job.




 The Gophers host Ohio State 11/15/14.

And sadly, that is not likely to be a good example of the Gophers' improvement: our talent can't come close to the Buckeyes. Home game or not, I'm sure we'll lose by double-digits. And quite possibly by 20+.

If you're an Ohio State fan, Moondawg, my sympathies: I just read that Braxton Miller is out for the season after a shoulder injury sustained in practice. He's a phenomenal player. I'm sure the Buckeyes will be more than adequate regardless, but it hurts somewhat, and obviously you never want to see anyone get hurt, much less someone so spectacular.

(Not quite the right thread, but we really can't sustain a college football thread, I assume)
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« Reply #106 on: August 19, 2014, 05:11:23 PM »

 Sad news. Very sorry that Braxton Miller is losing his senior year. The injury dates back to the Orange Bowl on Jan 1 -he had surgery in the offseason. No guarantees in this life. I'm sure the backup will do a solid job.
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« Reply #107 on: August 19, 2014, 06:57:23 PM »

Pretty interesting story in the Washington Post about the restricted free agency of Greg Monroe.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/sports/wp/2014/08/18/greg-monroe-maximizing-limited-leverage-with-detroit-pistons/
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« Reply #108 on: August 20, 2014, 04:03:53 AM »

Sad news. Very sorry that Braxton Miller is losing his senior year. The injury dates back to the Orange Bowl on Jan 1 -he had surgery in the offseason. No guarantees in this life. I'm sure the backup will do a solid job.

I never like to see a kid, no matter who he plays for, get hurt and have to sit out an entire year. I feel bad for him. I'm an MSU fan, so from the football perspective, it helps us out a lot, I think. Unless the other kid steps in and is even better, which is a real possibility.
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« Reply #109 on: August 20, 2014, 04:08:20 AM »

Looks like he's gonna drag this thing out until the last possible minute. By the tone of that article, it sounds like he doesn't want to stay, no matter what Detroit does. Before, it always kind of sounded like he was unhappy because of Smith. Now it sounds like he just wants to get out.
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« Reply #110 on: August 20, 2014, 03:31:20 PM »

Team USA v Dominican Republic begins in about half an hour and airs (I think) on NBA TV, for those interested. Pretty sure I have that, so I'll be tuning in.

Oh, and lest I go TOO long without mentioning it, we're three days away from the Love trade being technically possible, as Aug. 23 is the date when Andrew Wiggins can be dealt.
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« Reply #111 on: August 21, 2014, 04:23:32 PM »

Sorry, obligatory Love post because I read something new today--a few writers were tossing out what they were calling new info. Not sure it's really new, maybe just slightly more solidified rumor?

Basically, the gist is that Anthony Bennett isn't going to Philly but Thaddeus Young almost certainly still is going to Minnesota. Here's how it's purportedly shaking out:

to Cleveland: Kevin Love
to Minnesota: Andrew Wiggins, Thaddeus Young, Anthony Bennett
to Philadelphia: 1st round pick (Miami's via Cleveland), Alexey Shved, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute

I'd like to get a pick in Minnesota, too, but I guess we'll see how it works out. I would be pretty happy with this trade as-is, though frankly I'd like to hang on to Shved. He had a rough year last year because Adelman seemed insistent to put him in the worst possible situations, but he was quite good as a rookie. I don't know if having Kirilenko around was the difference or what, but he was a different guy. He could do very well in Philly if he gets playing time and they don't treat him as a spot-up shooter (as Adelman did at times, and which he certainly is not). He's very good with the ball in his hands both shooting, creating, or passing, is a better athlete than you'd guess, and can hit 3s...just not always and not as a catch-and-shoot guy.
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« Reply #112 on: August 22, 2014, 05:55:18 AM »

The above trade, plus a $4 million trade exception to Minn, is being reported as the final deal that will go through and be announced tomorrow.
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« Reply #113 on: August 22, 2014, 12:45:09 PM »

As far as Team USA goes (or actually, news that has come out of practices), if I was a Chicago fan, I'd be worried about Rose. His legs hurt, which I guess is normal because this is the most work they've gotten in a year. Still, you have to get out there and stretch them out. It's gonna hurt for a while, I imagine. Man, that whole franchise's future rests on those knees. There's a good chance that we've seen his best days.
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« Reply #114 on: August 22, 2014, 02:58:03 PM »

I think it was Jalen Rose who predicted--before Team USA training camp--that while Rose would go through camp and look good (and prove he's back), he would be cut or back out to preserve his knees. I am increasingly thinking that's the case. He really looked great against Brazil, not just dominant against inferior competition but athletic the way we remember him. So I think he's still got it .. .the question is how fragile he'll be. Unless he REALLY wants to play with Team USA for whatever reason, he should do what he has to do to protect himself.

As for Chicago, it's definitely interesting. That is a very good team without him. With him they're a legit contender from the East. Aaron Brooks can be disruptive and score points, and Kirk Hinrich is a solid all-around player and quite good defender. But Derrick Rose is an MVP. It's obviously an entirely different universe with Rose running the show.

That said, I don't feel THAT bad for Chicago fans. I mean, they're a good team regardless. I'm a fucking Timberwolves fan!
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« Reply #115 on: August 22, 2014, 03:12:02 PM »

Believe me, I don't care to see Chicago succeed. I first got into NBA with the Bad Boys Pistons teams, and those epic Eastern Conference finals games with Chicago. It was terrible, because year after year you could just see Chicago coming closer to being the best team in basketball. I remember thinking 'Next year, this team is probably going to beat us in the playoffs next year',  and they didn't just beat us, they swept us.

 I could never understand how people who claimed to be Pistons fans would wear Air Jordans and talk about how great he was; 'Well, I don't like the Bulls, but I like Jordan'. Really? f*** him and f*** you! I almost cried when Isiah led the Pistons off the floor without shaking hands with the Bulls; it was classless and petty, but it was OUR classless and petty.
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« Reply #116 on: August 22, 2014, 03:18:41 PM »

Team USA v Puerto Rico at 6 pm CT tonight on ESPN2.

Puerto Rico is a middle-of-the-pack looking team, though there are some very good players. Puerto Rico has traditionally been a bombs-away style team, really focused on their backcourt though historically with solid play from the center spot, usually the esteemed Jose Ortiz.

This year the point guards are JJ Barea (Wolves), Carlos Arroyo (numerous NBA and Euro teams), and David Huertas (U of Florida and Ole Miss, international pro). Those guys, AD Vassallo (Va Tech), Renaldo Balkman (Knicks 1st rounder, other NBA teams), Ricky Sanchez (signed with Memphis under Calipari but didn't play there), and then Daniel Santiago seem to be the best players, talent-wise. There are fewer good guards than historically, so it will be interesting to see their style of play. I am guessing a lot of Barea and Arroyo pick and rolls with Santiago,  with Vassallo spotted up and Balkman as a really good garbage man.

Then tomorrow, we're to expect cuts to get to the final roster. Should be fun. Once the Love trade happens, does he suddenly return to the team? What happens with Rose? Even if he makes it, do they keep an extra PG as insurance? Should be fun.
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« Reply #117 on: August 23, 2014, 06:39:26 AM »

Team USA made some relatively surprising cuts, sending home guard Damien Lillard and wings Kyle Korver, Chandler Parsons, and Gordon Hayward.

The final roster is:

Guards: Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving, Steph Curry,
Wings: James Harden, Klay Thompson, Demar DeRozan, Rudy Gay
Bigs: Anthony Davis, Kenneth Faried, Mason Plumlee, Boogie Cousins, Andre Drummond

The decision to keep all the bigs was somewhat surprising to me. I hadn't expected it or read / heard any hints that it was coming. The common assumption seemed to be that either Cousins or Drummond was going home, and maybe both.

The move seems to show how seriously the USA takes Spain, which features a starting frontline of Pau and Marc Gasol and brings off the bench Serge Ibaka and Victor Claver. That's a lot of mostly high level NBA firepower with size. They can also play European vet pro Felipe Reyes at the PF, who is no pushover. I think that Team USA realizes a few typically questionable calls from FIBA refs could really hurt their chances to beat Spain, and so they got some foul insurance. I'll bet Drummond and Cousins are the 11th and 12th men on this team, not getting off the bench much at all. But when the biggest threat, Spain, is the opponent, we'll be ready to go at them with size.

One thing I should add: previous teams often kept a deep bench player who could be considered a shooting specialist. I think this roster shows they believe their top-line players are more dependable jump shooters than some past rosters could bring. Irving, Curry, Harden, and Thompson are all going to be major-minutes guys at the PG, SG, and SF spots, and all can really, dependably shoot the ball. Then of course DeRozan and Gay can regularly hit shots as well.
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« Reply #118 on: August 23, 2014, 08:53:06 AM »

Well, Sports Radio 94.1 WIP in Philadelphia has been reporting the Thaddeus Young deal on their updates. The thought of Anthony Bennett in Philly was intriguing, but I guess this deal isn't that bad. I admit that I don't know the two players who the 76ers acquired. The reports are that Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, in addition to being the backup center, will serve as an unofficial "mentor" to Joel Embiid. And, Alexey Shved is supposed to back up Michael Carter Williams, but the two of them could share time together with Williams at the 2. Of course the big acquisition for Sam Hinkie is ANOTHER No. 1 pick, and apparently the draft will be deep next year. So, 2015 will be the third straight year that the 76ers had/have two No. 1 picks! Shocked
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« Reply #119 on: August 23, 2014, 10:00:54 AM »

I can help a little on your new players and give a few too-early thoughts on next year's draft.

Alexey Shved is the better of the two players you're getting. He's about 6-5, 6-6, and plays both guard spots. He was a very good young player in Russia for their powerhouse team, CSKA Moscow, where in his final season there ('11-'12) he was one of four players to average double figures (10.6 across all phases, joining Nenad Krstic at 14.2, Andrei Kirilenko at 14.1, and Milos Teodosic at 10.2). More impressively, he sot 49.3 3pt% and averaged 3 apg (in international play, assists are not handed out unless they directly lead to a basket--typically without any dribbles or moves by the recipient, so 3 apg is more like 5-6 in an NBA context). The summer before his first NBA season, he had an exceptional 2012 Olympics (over 11 ppg and about 6 apg, while turning it over less than once a game).

He had a tough season last year in Minnesota, where coach Adelman clearly soured on him. The issue seemed to me that he was often forced to be a corner spot-up shooter, just running the baseline. He's a far better player creating than just catch-and-shooting. The season before, he had some stretches where injuries forced him to play a lot, and for almost the first half of the season, he was a double-digit scorer getting 4-5 apg. He had a particularly great December 2012. He showed off surprising athleticism--contrary to the Euro stereotypes--and was very creative on offense. In short, I think he's a legitimate NBA player who may do well on a talent-starved Philly backcourt if given a chance.

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is known as a defender, but honestly last year he didn't show me much in that respect. Worse, he was just horrific on offense, neither able to shoot jumpers, play in the post, or dribble to penetrate and create. It was actually kind of embarrassing. Making it worse for Minnesotans was that we traded away mercurial former #2 overall pick Derrick Williams--admittedly something we had to do, just not for a guy who seemed totally inadequate as an NBA player. By all accounts he's a great guy, a good citizen. He "discovered" Embiid and already has a great relationship there, so I have no doubt that is the only reason Philly would even consider keeping him around.

As for the pick, my understanding is that it is protected, and so most likely it is going to be in the 17-22 range (per ESPN Chad Ford). Basically that means that it depends on who comes out for the draft as far as whether it is an elite type prospect, or a more developed, predictable, but limited-upside guy. Next year there are several potentially very good international prospects (Mario Hezonjia, Kristaps Porzingis, Marc Garcia, Ilmane Diop) and several very good freshmen (Jahlil Okafor, Karl Towns, Emmanuel Mudiay, Stanley Johnson, Kelly Oubre, Myles Turner, Cliff Alexander, Justise Winslow, Tyus Jones). So basically, the entire lottery could be freshmen and international. The difference between them all coming out, some coming out, or (hahaha!) none coming out is immense. My guess is most of them come out as long as the NBA hasn't changed its eligibility rules--which is possible--and you are in the market for someone like Kansas' Wayne Seldon, Arkansas' Bobby Portis, Arizona's Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, etc. In other words, a very good college sophomore or junior.
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« Reply #120 on: August 24, 2014, 08:54:21 AM »

Thanks for the scouting report. It was also reported on 94.1 WIP that the two new acquisitions from Minnesota are also on the last years of their contracts, which I'm sure played a part in the deal, knowing Mr. Hinkie... Wink
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« Reply #121 on: August 24, 2014, 09:15:18 AM »

Exactly right. Mbah a Moute is at around $5.5 million and Shved is around $3 million, if I recall. Of course, Young was on the last (guaranteed--player option) year of his, too, so it wasn't a real money-saver. However, it did allow them to add a pick and probably perform worse (thus getting a higher pick next year) without adding salary. And that is right up Hinkie's alley.
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« Reply #122 on: August 25, 2014, 03:07:33 PM »

ARGH.

So, the Wolves and Ricky Rubio's agents have apparently been semi-quietly discussing his inevitable next contract. Wolves offered a 4-year, $48 million deal, which is what Kyle Lowry signed for, for example. I believe Steph Curry also signed for around the same thing, which is a remarkable bargain. Eric Bledsoe was offered, and refused, that same offer. Rubio's camp wants a 5-year, full max deal (as does Bledsoe).

So ... speaking of ... today in a few outlets it was casually floated by Minnesota press that one possible option could be a Phoenix sign-and-trade that gets Bledsoe his full, 5-year max and sends him to Minnesota for a deal centered on Rubio, though presumably including somewhere in the $7+ million ballpark to equal out salaries. I have no idea why Phoenix would do this, unless it intends to cave to Rubio's demands, or thinks he'll sign there for less, or doesn't care if he walks. But man, we just got done with one massive trade and now we have a new rumor? COME ON, LET OUR TEAM GO A WHILE!
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« Reply #123 on: September 01, 2014, 12:28:28 PM »

Both Bledsoe and Monroe are waiting until the last minute, apparently.
Kevin Durant, who everybody had signing with Under Armor, left the altar at the last minute and signed with Nike again. That blows my 'Durant to DC' theory, as I thought it would make sense for him to sign with a 'local' company (UA is based in MD).
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« Reply #124 on: September 02, 2014, 06:04:07 AM »

The Nike thing wasn't his choice: they had the right to match any offer. (Kind of an endorsement-deal version of restricted free agency.)

He's still going to Washinton, I'll bet.

The Worlds have been fun. Turke played a hell of a game against USA Sunday. For nearly 3 quarters it was scary, shades of Greece '06.
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Demon-Fighting Genius; Patronizing Twaddler; Argumentative, Sanctimonious Prick; Sensationalist Dullard; and Douche who (occasionally to rarely) puts songs here.

No interest in your assorted grudges and nonsense.
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