Archive for August, 2008

Shaq and wife staying together

The Miami Herald (Joan Fleischman) reports: It’s official: Shaq and Shaunie will remain a team. NBA star Shaquille O’Neal’s attorney Ira Elegant wrote to Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Roberto Pineiro: “The parties have reconciled.” Pineiro signed the dismissal order on Friday. ”A happy ending,” says Shaunie’s lawyer, Marsha Elser. Elegant agrees. “An excellent result.” Shaq filed last September, when he played for the Miami Heat.

Airline loses Ginobili’s luggage

The San Antonio Express-News (Mike Monroe) reports: After more than an hour on a runway in Beijing, another 12 in the air, an hour clearing customs at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport and three more waiting for a connecting flight, Spurs star Manu Ginobili arrived at San Antonio International Airport late Monday night and discovered the truth about heroes. When it comes to lost luggage, Olympic medalists get no special favors. Missing were three of the four bags he and his wife had checked in Beijing, where Ginobili collected a bronze medal as the leading scorer for the Argentine Olympic team. “I actually got 25 percent — three out of four (were missing),” Ginobili said.

The New York Times (Howard Beck) reports: Winning Olympic gold in Beijing depended partly on Team USA’s ability to cope with the unfamiliar geometry of the international game: a trapezoidal lane, a shallow 3-point arc and a contorted array of driving lanes. But in two years, the trapezoid will be dead, the arc will be a little deeper and the international game will be a bit closer in style to the N.B.A.’s. The lane will become a rectangle, emulating the United States model. The arc will move to 6.75 meters (22.1 feet) — closer to the N.B.A. standard of 22 feet 9 inches — from 6.25 meters (20.5 feet). The changes were among several adopted, to little fanfare, by the International Basketball Federation, known as FIBA, in April. The new rules take effect after the world championships in 2010, so they will be in place for the 2012 Olympics in London. The intent is to sharpen the international game and to make it more uniform from one hemisphere to another, at all levels of play. But the changes will undoubtedly provide a subtle lift to a United States team that probably needs no help. editor says: Regardless of which international team it helps in the somewhat near future, the idea that the entire world will be playing on the same basketball court is a good one, and ultimately does benefit the collective basketball universe in the long run.

More from the New York Times (Howard Beck): In FIBA’s view, the 3-point shot has become too common. In 1984, when the arc was added in international play, only 14 percent of all field-goal attempts were 3-pointers, Baumann said. Now, he added, that number is 40 percent and players routinely make 38 to 40 percent of them. “The board felt that’s no longer now an exceptional shot,” Baumann said. “It felt something needed to be done.”

The Los Angeles Clippers today named Fred Vinson Assistant Coach/Director of Player Programs. Vinson served as a Player Development consultant for the Clippers during the 2007-08 season.

“We feel that Fred’s background and experience as an NBA player will allow him to take on a mentoring roll with our young players and help ease their transition to the NBA,” stated Clippers’ Director of Player Personnel Neil Olshey.

Vinson played parts of the 1994-95 and 1999-00 season with the Atlanta Hawks and Seattle Supersonics, tallying career averages of 1.3 points and 5.2 minutes per game. Vinson also averaged 3.3 points per game for the Clippers during the 2005-06 NBA preseason.

A 6’4” guard out of Georgia Tech, Vinson worked his way to the NBA through the CBA and USBL, averaging 6.4 points in 20 games played for the Mexico Aztecas (CBA) during the 1994-95 season. Vinson also spent time with the Atlanta Trojans of the USBL during the 1994 season.

While at Georgia Tech, Vinson turned in his best season in 1993, averaging 11.9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 29 games played during his senior campaign. He also connected on 72-181 (.398) three-point field goals on the year.

The Phoenix Suns announced today that the club has acquired rookie guard Sean Singletary from the Houston Rockets in exchange for guard D.J. Strawberry.

“Sean gives us depth at the point guard spot,” said Suns President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Steve Kerr.  “We like his instincts and his ability to run a team.  He also puts a lot of pressure on the ball defensively. We thank D.J. for his contributions and wish him well.”

In Singletary, the Suns acquire a dynamic 6-0, 185-point rookie guard, who was the 42nd overall selection (second round) of the Sacramento Kings in the 2008 NBA Draft.  Singletary was then traded to the Rockets along with Patrick Ewing, Jr. in the deal that sent Ron Artest to Houston in exchange for Donte Green, Bobby Jackson and a future first-round pick on August 14, 2008.  Singletary was a member of the Kings’ 2008 Las Vegas Summer League squad, averaging 5.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 32.2 minutes with appearances in each of the club’s five games.

A four-year standout at Virginia, Singletary was a three-time All-Atlantic Coast Conference First Team selection.  During his senior season of 2007-08, the soon-to-be 23-year-old led his team in scoring for the second-straight season (19.8 points) and was the lone Division I player to rank in the top 40 in both scoring and assists.  That production earned Singletary an Honorable Mention All-America Selection from the Associated Press and made him a finalist for the Bob Cousy Award, given annually to the nation’s top collegiate point guard.

A three-time co-captain for the Cavaliers, Singletary finished his career as the only player in ACC history with 2,000 career points, 500 assists, 400 rebounds and 200 steals.  Singletary’s jersey was retired by Virginia before his final home game.

Strawberry was selected by the Suns with the 59th overall pick (second round) of the 2007 NBA Draft.  In his rookie campaign with Phoenix in 2007-08, the 6-5, 201-pound guard averaged 2.2 points, 0.8 rebounds and 0.9 assists in 8.1 minutes, appearing in 33 games.

Lakers sign Sun Yue

The Lakers have officially added “the Chinese Magic Johnson” to their 2008-09 roster, but don’t expect anything remotely similar to Magic. Not on the court, and no bad late night talk-show hosting, either - unless that’s a hobby of Sun’s I don’t know about. As for Yue as a player, I’ve seen him in limited doses, enough to recognize that he’s versatile and pretty good. But I think the Lakers will only expect minor contributions from him this season. If they get anything more than that, it’ll be considered a nice surprise and a bonus. –Jeff

Here’s the full news release:

The Los Angeles Lakers have signed Sun Yue to a multi-year contract, it was announced today. Per team policy, terms of the agreement were not released.

Originally selected by the Lakers in the second round (40th overall) of 2007 NBA draft, the 6-9 guard started for the Chinese National Team this past month in the men’s basketball tournament at the Beijing Olympics. In six games, Sun averaged 6.8 points, 1.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.33 steals in 28.0 minutes.

Playing for the Beijing Aoshen Olympians of the American Basketball Association for the past three seasons, Sun, 23, was named First Team All-ABA in both 2007 and 2008 while earning Second-Team All-ABA honors in 2006.

Posting a 12-point, 14-rebound, 12-assist, 8-block, 4-steal triple-double against the L.A. Aftershock during his rookie season in the ABA (2005-06), Sun averaged 13.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 10.5 assists in 2006-07 when the team played its home games at Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, CA before moving to Singapore for the 2007-08 season.

Oklahoma City General Manager Sam Presti today announced several additions to the team’s basketball staff. They include Rob Hennigan as Director of College and International Player Personnel, Dr. Donnie Strack as Director of Medical Services, Joe Sharpe as Head Athletic Trainer, Brian Facchini as Director of Basketball Communications, Vin Bhavnani as Video Coordinator and Ayana Clinton as Manager of Player Appearances and Services.

“We are pleased to add this caliber of professionalism and experience to our basketball operations staff.” Presti said. “Our mission in Oklahoma City is to build an elite basketball organization; we feel that has to occur on and off the court. Today’s additions will help us as we continue to build and define our franchise.”

Hennigan comes to Oklahoma City from the San Antonio Spurs where he served as Director of Basketball Operations. Hennigan joined the Spurs as an intern during the 2004-2005 season and was named the team’s Basketball Operations Assistant in the summer of 2005.

Since 2005, Strack has been a physical therapist at Orthopedic Physical Therapy Services in Wellesley Hills, Mass. Strack graduated with a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from the University of Indianapolis in 2005 after serving as a Graduate Assistant athletic trainer for the Indiana Pacers from 2002-2005. Strack also served as an assistant athletic trainer during the 2002 World Basketball Championships in Indianapolis in 2002.

Sharpe joins Oklahoma City from the Charlotte Bobcats where he served as the Head Athletic Trainer for the team since its inception into the NBA in 2004. Prior to Charlotte, Sharpe was the Assistant Athletic Trainer/Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Minnesota Timberwolves for two seasons, which included the team’s Midwest Division title and run to the Western Conference Finals. Sharpe was previously the Head Basketball Athletic Trainer at the University of Connecticut during a nine-year stint with the Huskies and was in charge of the team’s medical care during its NCAA Championship season in 1999. In 2002, he worked at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid and worked with the USA Basketball men’s junior national team.

Facchini brings nine years of NBA basketball public relations experience to Oklahoma City. He spent six years with the Portland Trail Blazers as Manager of Sports Communications from 1997-2003 before moving to the San Antonio Spurs from 2003-2006 where he served as Manager of Media Services. He has spent the last two years as the U.S. Communications Manager for Nike in Beaverton, Ore.

Bhavnani has spent the last two years with the San Antonio Spurs as the Assistant Video Coordinator. He started his NBA career with the Los Angeles Clippers as an intern in the video department in 2004.

Clinton joined the organization in 2004 as the Video Coordinator for the WNBA’s Seattle Storm. She served the NBA team last year in Seattle as the Player Services Coordinator. Clinton began her career in the NBA as an intern in the video department with the Memphis Grizzlies in 2000 before being hired fulltime two years later as the team’s assistant video coordinator.

Mavericks re-sign Devean George

The Dallas Mavericks announced today that they have re-signed forward Devean George. Per team policy, terms of the deal were undisclosed.

George, a nine-year veteran, played his first seven seasons for the Los Angeles Lakers before the Mavericks originally signed him on August 2, 2006.  In 53 games last season with four starts, George averaged 3.7 points and 2.6 rebounds in 15.5 minutes per game.  Over his NBA career, he holds averages of 5.8 points and 3.3 rebounds in 542 games.

The Minneapolis native attended Augsburg College before being drafted by the Lakers with the 23rd pick in the 1998 NBA Draft.  He is the seventh player in NBA history to win an NBA championship in each of his first three seasons and also is the first player from a Division III university to appear in the NBA Finals.

“Getting Devean back in a Mavs uniform has been a goal of ours all summer,” said Head Coach Rick Carlisle.  “His experience and ability to run the floor and play and defend multiple positions will be a great asset for us this season.”

The Dallas Morning News (Brad Townsend) reports: Jason Kidd retired Sunday. From USA Basketball competition, not his job with the Dallas Mavericks, with whom he is entering the final season of his $20 million-a-year contract. There is no better way for Kidd to bow out of international basketball, having earned his second gold medal Sunday while extending his record to 56-0 in Olympics, Olympic qualifying and exhibition games.  “I’m undefeated,” Kidd, 35, said. “I told them I can retire now from international ball, but LeBron [James] threw out something I didn’t like. He said he won’t play in 2012 unless I’m there.”

Spurs should be angry at Ginobili

If I was the Spurs, I’d be really angry that a guy I pay an incredible amount of money continues to spend his summers playing in international competitions instead of resting and getting fully healthy for the NBA season.

Ginobili wasn’t fully healthy much of last season, especially in the playoffs. So what does he do this summer? Play in the Olympics, and get injured. This makes me want to look into contracts a bit more and find out how many players have control of whether they play summer international ball vs. how many have to get the OK from the team. Obviously insurance money is a factor, but I don’t know how much of one and now I want to find out.

In the ideal world, if a player participates in non-NBA activity like summer international competitions, and gets injured, his NBA team shouldn’t have to pay him while he heals.

Celtics sign Bill Walker

The Boston Celtics announced today that they have signed 2008 second round draft pick Bill Walker. Per team policy, financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Bill’s hard work and skill development this summer has given us the belief that he can be in our short-term plans as well as our long-term plans.” said Danny Ainge, Celtics Executive Director of Basketball Operations/General Manager.

Walker, a 6’6, 220 pound forward from Kansas State University was taken with the 47th pick by the Washington Wizards and was acquired by the Celtics for cash considerations.  Walker earned Third Team All-Big 12 honors from The Associated Press and the league coaches as a redshirt freshman this past season.  The former Wildcat ranked second on the team in scoring with 16.1 points per game which also was good for fifth in the Big 12.  Walker scored 20 or more points nine times and topped the 30-point mark twice. Walker posted career averages of 15.3 points and 6.0 rebounds in 37 games over two seasons for the Wildcats.

Walker was acquired in a draft night trade from the Washington Wizards on June 26, 2008 in exchange for cash considerations.  Walker will wear #12.

Spurs re-sign Michael Finley

Jeff says: Finley, now at age 82, a full 23 years older than Greg Oden, is at the end of his career and I don’t think he should play more than a few minutes per quarter as a backup. That said, he’s probably still useful off the bench, plus his Spurs experience makes him more useful to them than many other ancient veterans would be. Here’s the news release:

The San Antonio Spurs announced today that they have re-signed guard Michael Finley. Per team policy, terms of the deals were not disclosed.

The 6-7, 225-lb Finley was one of two Spurs (Fabricio Oberto was the other) to appear in all 82 games during the 2007-08 season. He averaged 10.1 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 26.9 minutes and shot .414 (315-761) from the field, .370 (132-357) from three-point land and .800 (64-80) from the line. Finley scored in double figures 47 times and had 20-or-more five times on the season. The University of Wisconsin product saw action in all 17 of San Antonio’s playoff games, averaging 6.7 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 23.0 minutes per game.

Finley was originally signed by the Spurs on 9/2/05. The two-time All-Star has also spent time with the Phoenix Suns and the Dallas Mavericks. Over his 13-year NBA career, he has appeared in 976 games and has averaged 16.7 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 32.8 minutes.

Jeff says: Ruland, a former NBA big-man, is a big dude. For all you size-challenged people out there, if Ruland ever decides to fall asleep while standing up, and you happen to be near him, move away, quickly. Why would he fall asleep standing up? No reason at all. Just saying, if for some absurd reason that ever happened, get out of the way. Anyway, here’s the news release:

Philadelphia 76ers President and General Manager Ed Stefanski announced today that Jeff Ruland has been hired as an assistant coach.  Ruland’s main area of concentration as part of Head Coach Maurice Cheeks’ staff will be to work with and help develop the Sixers post players.

“That I am able to add a coach with the experience and credentials of Jeff Ruland to my staff is exciting,” Cheeks said. “He’ll be an invaluable resource for our players - particularly our big men - and an asset to the organization as a whole.”

“I’m excited to re-join the 76ers and have the opportunity to help the organization reach the goal of winning a championship, as well as return to a city that is very close to me and my family,” Ruland said. “I owe a lot to the Thunderbirds and the ownership there. Sam Bregman and David Kahn played a large part in my move back to the NBA. I am a shining example of how the NBA Development League continues to prosper and promote, not only players, but coaches as well.”

An eight-year NBA veteran, Ruland most recently served as head coach of the Albuquerque Thunderbirds of the NBA Development League during the 2007-08 season.  Prior to that, Ruland was head coach of his alma mater Iona, helping the Gaels secure three NCAA Tournament berths during his nine seasons at the helm.

A two-time NBA All-Star, Ruland appeared in 332 career games with 189 starts, averaging a point-rebound double-double with 17.4 ppg and 10.2 rpg.  His best season came with Washington in 1983-84 when he led the NBA in minutes played while averaging 22.2 points, 12.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists.

In June of 1986, the Sixers acquired Ruland and Cliff Robinson from the Bullets in exchange for Moses Malone, Terry Catledge and two first round draft picks.  However, a knee injury forced Ruland to retire after just five games with the Sixers.  Five years later, he came out of retirement to join the Sixers during the 1991-92 season, but suffered a torn Achilles after appearing in 13 games.

Following his second retirement from the NBA in 1993, Ruland again returned to the Sixers, this time as an assistant coach on Fred Carter’s staff during the 1993-94 season.  In 1995, Ruland was hired as an assistant coach at Iona College by Tim Welsh, who most recently completed a 10-year run as head coach at Providence College.

During his playing career at Iona, Ruland was coached by the legendary Jim Valvano.  Ruland played for several coaches during his NBA career, including two current members of the Sixers staff, assistant coach Jim Lynam and scout Gene Shue.

Celtics sign Darius Miles

Jeff says: Miles has always been a question mark. Early on he was just an athletic dunker who didn’t really know how to play basketball. But as his career progressed, he kept showing stretches of occasional brilliance. He was still raw and not yet developed, yet for 10 or 15 minutes here and there Miles seemed like a future star, if he could just learn how to play. Only that never really happened, because he got hurt, badly, over and over. And fell out of shape. And even when he was playing well, there was never a sense that he ever really loved basketball. But now he’s apparently back, in shape, and ready to contribute. I think the Celtics are making the right move, taking a low-risk chance on him with potential decent reward. And, here’s the news release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they have signed free agent forward Darius Miles. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Miles, a 6’9”, 235lbs forward out of East St. Louis High School has posted career averages of 10.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.15 blocks in 412 career games. Miles was originally drafted with the third overall pick in the 2000 NBA draft by the Los Angeles Clippers. Miles last played for the Portland Trail Blazers during the 2005-06 season when he averaged a career high 14.0 points and 4.6 rebounds in 40 games. Miles missed all of the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons due to microfracture surgery on his right knee.

“Darius has been in twice for workouts with us and has impressed us with his progress, health, and attitude;” said Danny Ainge, Celtics Executive Director of Basketball Operations/General Manager. “Darius will have the next couple of months to prove to myself and Coach Rivers that he can help us win.”

The Bellville, Illinois native became the first player in NBA history to receive All-Rookie honors straight out of high school when he averaged 9.4 points and 1.54 blocks for the Clippers in the 2000-01 season. Miles scored in double-figures in 31 of the 40 games that he appeared in during his last NBA season in 2005-06. As a starter in 23 of those 40 games he averaged 16.9 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.2 blocks per game.

“I’ve watched the Boston Celtics play a lot last year and loved what I saw in their teamwork and chemistry on the court and it’s the team that I want to try to resume my career with.” said Miles. “I am excited about having an opportunity to play on a team that I feel my personality fits with and a team that can have great success on the court.”

Nuggets re-sign J.R. Smith

As expected, the Nuggets have kept their super-athletic, three-point shooting restricted free agent who teams around the league seem to have not even bothered trying to sign because Denver was going to match any sane offer.  Here’s the news release:

The Denver Nuggets have re-signed G J.R. Smith to a multi-year contract, Nuggets Vice President of Basketball Operations Mark Warkentien announced today.  Per team policy, terms of the deal were not released. We’ll post the reported salary later tonight.

“We’re extremely delighted to have J.R. back,” said Warkentien.  “His blend of off-the-charts-athleticism and long-range shooting ability is rare, especially for someone his age.   We believe his best basketball is still to come.”

Smith, 22, has averaged 12.6 ppg in 137 regular season games for the Nuggets over the past two seasons – primarily as a reserve (just 24 starts).  He has shot .396 (306-772) from three-point range as a Nugget, which ranks as the best percentage in team history (minimum 100 made treys).

This past season, Smith averaged 12.3 ppg in 19.2 minutes per game, while notching career-bests for field goal percentage (.461) and three-point percentage (.403).  He led the NBA in three-point field goals made per 48 minutes (5.3) and twice tied the team record for three-pointers made in a quarter with seven.  He scored a career-high 43 points off the bench in 33 minutes at Chicago on 2/22, setting a team record for points in a non-starting role.  Smith continued his strong play in the postseason, averaging 18.3 ppg in 27.0 minutes in four games against the Lakers.

The 6-6, 220, swingman was acquired from Chicago on July 20, 2006, in exchange for Howard Eisley and two second-round draft picks.  He was originally selected by the New Orleans Hornets in the first round (18th overall) of the 2004 NBA Draft.

Web viewing of NBA games may soon exist

The Oklahoman (Mel Bracht) reports: Say you’re working late and can’t make it to the Ford Center to watch Oklahoma City’s new NBA team play its game that night. Instead, you log on to your computer and watch streaming video of the team’s game broadcast. Sound far-fetched? Not if the NBA has its way. The league is aggresively promoting three new Internet elements — video streaming in home markets, interactive TV and video-on-demand — for the upcoming season. Ed Desser, a media consultant for Oklahoma City’s team, said many details have yet to be worked out, and didn’t expect the team to offer the Internet elements anytime soon.

Seattle starts 3-on-3 league

The Seattle Times (Jayda Evans) reports: The latest game to hit Seattle will be 3BA International, a proposed three-on-three basketball league whose rules emphasize speed and stamina. Sonics legend Shawn Kemp will play in the Seattle vs. Portland exhibition game set for 7:30 tonight at KeyArena. “It’s the Arena Football version of basketball,” said former NBA player A.C. Green, who will coach the Portland team…  Teams made up of aspiring pros and former college players average about 150 points a contest. KeyArena will be re-formatted for the players to play on a league-regulated court that’s 50 feet wide and 72 feet long, using an 18-second shot clock.

Bobby Jackson wants to be a coach

The Sacramento Bee (Melody Gutierrez) reports: Bobby Jackson, who’s entering his 12th season, has been candid about his intentions. He sees himself playing one to three more years before committing himself to coaching. “No more than three years,” said Jackson, who will be at the California State Fair tonight to meet fans and sign autographs from 6 to 7 p.m. “I’m not trying to get into (coaching) right now. My main focus right now is (playing).” And even that will be a major adjustment, Jackson said. Only two players – Brad Miller and Kevin Martin – remain from his first go-around with the Kings from 2000 to 2005.

Heat sign Dorell Wright

The Miami Heat announced Thursday that they have re-signed guard/forward Dorell Wright. Per club policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Wright, who originally signed with the HEAT on July 27, 2004 after being drafted in the first round (19th overall) in the 2004 NBA Draft, has appeared in 133 games (55 starts). During his four-year NBA career in Miami, he has averaged 6.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 19.2 minutes while shooting 46.1 percent from the field and 79.2 percent from the foul line. Additionally, Wright has increased his points per game, rebounds per game and blocks per game averages while also increasing his offensive rebounds and games started in each of his four seasons with the HEAT. Over that same span, he has scored in double-figures on 34 occasions and has tallied eight double-doubles.

During the 2007-08 season, Wright appeared in 44 games (34 starts) and set career-highs with 7.9 points, 5.0 rebounds and 0.93 blocks in 25.1 minutes while shooting a career-best 48.8 percent from the field. Wright also dished out 1.4 assists while leading the HEAT in blocks on 16 occasions, rebounds seven times, steals on five occasions, minutes four times and points once. Wright became the first player in HEAT franchise history to be perfect shooting from both the field and the free throw line with at least five attempts in each category after he shot 5-for-5 from the field and 7-for-7 from the foul line versus Toronto on February 4, 2008.

Mavs still love Josh Howard

Josh Howard has obviously made a few errors off the court, but on the court he’s still a very good player. Though I don’t really think of him as an All-Star type player. Or a real star. More like a star role player. I think if J-Ho is your second best player, winning a championship is possible but it’ll be tough. But, assuming the rest of the team is in proper order, if he’s your third best you have a fantastic shot at a title, and if he’s your 4th best then you’re getting the trophy. Anyway, here’s the commentary:

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Jan Hubbard) reports: The infamous radio interview when he admitted smoking marijuana, the ill-advised birthday party after the Mavericks lost three of their first four playoff games to New Orleans, and the recent attempt to emulate a NASCAR driver, which resulted in an arrest for going 94 mph in a 55-mph speed zone, are lamentable decisions on Howard’s part. But the conclusion reached by way too many people is that exercising questionable judgment in his personal life translates to a decline in ability on the basketball court, and that is ridiculous. Howard had the best season of his five-year career in 2007-08. His averages of 19.9 points, seven rebounds and 2.2 assists were career highs. In the first two months of the season, he was so good that Dirk Nowitzki willingly deferred to him.

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