Of all the team’s options for reloading headed into next season, a Clippers trade for Chris Paul would have by far the biggest impact. Short of Paul, the team could pursue long-shot deals for upgrade point guards like Jrue Holiday, Ricky Rubio, or Goran Dragic, but would likely be left making some minor moves on the second unit, most importantly replacing Montrezl Harrell at backup center.
If the Clippers are all-in on contending for the 2021 NBA Championship, Paul outshines the other potential additions. He returned to All-NBA form in 2020, being named to the 2nd team, and embraced a new role as the leader of a young, upstart Oklahoma City Thunder team that became the darlings of the NBA as they defied predictions by keeping their team intact and finishing 5th in the Western Conference. Paul is older, with well-documented durability issues, and has a massive contract, but if the Clippers need a facilitating point guard and leadership in the locker room, there are few players in the league who fit the bill like CP3.
It’s that precise combination of age and contract which makes a player with Chris’ on-court impact available in a trade at all. At 35 years old, he’ll make $41,358,814 and turn 36 next season. Then, he has a player option (which he’ll certainly opt in to) for $44,211,146 for the 2021-22 season, when he’ll turn 37 in time for the playoffs. It isn’t unrealistic to expect Paul to still be good through the duration of this deal–after all, he just had an All-NBA season at 35, so even with some expected decline he still figures to make a positive impact at 37. But his age, and both years of his contract, significantly narrow the field of potential trade partners for Oklahoma City, driving Paul’s value down.
Being 35 means only teams that have legitimate title hopes in the next 1-2 years (and a need at point guard, of course) would value Paul. His salary for next season makes the logistics of a trade incredibly difficult, meaning any team would have to give up multiple rotation players to fit him back. To legally take on $41.3M in a trade, any team would have to put together just over $33M in outgoing salary. Good teams don’t have $33 million in expendable parts. Then, Paul’s massive salary for 2021-22 automatically takes any team that acquires him out of the running for free agents next summer. Teams like the Miami Heat or Dallas Mavericks would likely prefer the flexibility to get better long-term over foreclosing those possibilities for the short-term upgrade Paul offers.
When all is said and done, the Clippers aren’t alone as potential Paul landing spots, but they’re one of just a few who really makes sense, along with the Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks, and Philadelphia 76ers. Both LA teams would need some help (a Montrezl Harrell sign-and-trade for the Clippers, free agents opting in for the Lakers) to get the $33 million together. Philadelphia can do so easily, but not without sending the massive, longer-running deal of either Tobias Harris or Al Horford. The Bucks have an easier path to the finances, but could be held back by the commitment to depleting their depth and incurring massive luxury tax bills. Whatever goes down with CP3, it’s not gonna be easy.
Building a Package
Let’s take a look at how a deal could come together for the Clippers. Technically, teams could chase Paul before the free agency window opens and his salary increases from $38.5M in 2019-20 to $41.4M in 2020-21, but it wouldn’t make a huge difference as most players involved in a trade would also be set to have their salaries bump up when the league turns over from the 2020 cap year to the 2021 cap year.
For the Clippers to fit in Paul’s $38.5M in 2020 salary, they’d have to send out $30,725,186. Players who are entering free agency, like Marcus Morris, Montrezl Harrell, Patrick Patterson, and Reggie Jackson are not trade-eligible. JaMychal Green, who has a player option for next season, could be trade-eligible if he commits to opting in to his deal for next year. Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, and Rodney McGruder only add up to $24,975,309. Bridging the gap requires including either 23-year-old starting center Ivica Zubac’s deal, or convincing JaMychal Green to opt in and packaging him with one of the team’s rookie deals: Mfiondu Kabengele, Landry Shamet, or Terance Mann. The Zubac option is a non-starter, and while Green and either Kabengele or Mann might be agreeable for the Clippers, it’s far from a sure thing that JaMychal will opt in, and if he does, the same deal would be workable in free agency as well.
So let’s look at how the Clippers put together the $33M package to add Chris Paul in a trade once free agency opens. Here, again, we’re starting with Beverley, Williams, and McGruder, whose 2021 cap hits add up to $26,525,640. Again, making up the difference becomes tricky, but the Clippers have a few more options here to find the last $6.5M:
- Once again, throwing in Ivica Zubac ($7M) is the easiest for the math but not something the Clippers should be interested in.
- If JaMychal Green does indeed opt in, his 2021 cap hit ($5,005,350) gets the Clippers within striking range, just needing an additional $1.5M from the options below.
- Shamet ($2,090,040), Kabengele ($2,075,880), and Mann ($1,517,981) all offer small amounts of salary filler and sweetener, though the Clippers would be particularly loathe to part with Shamet.
- Joakim Noah becomes a valuable potential filler, with a full minimum salary worth $2,692,991. That salary is non-guaranteed, but only guaranteed salary counts for outgoing trade math. Whatever portion of Noah’s deal the Clippers need to meet that $33M threshold would have to be guaranteed. So, in the example where Green opts in and is included, the Noah’s deal would need to be partially guaranteed for $1.5M and the remaining $1.2M would still be non-guaranteed.
- The door opens for the Clippers to add outgoing salary by signing-and-trading someone away. JaMychal Green (if he opts out), Marcus Morris, and Montrezl Harrell can all be significant factors, although Harrell clearly makes the most sense to be included. Harrell’s outgoing trade value would be limited by Base Year Compensation, a rule that states that if a player receives greater than a 20% raise in a sign-and-trade deal, their outgoing trade value is either their old salary, or half of their new salary, whichever is greater. To complete this deal by himself, Harrell would have to make $13M on his new contract, but if he falls short of that number Noah would be an easy inclusion to square away the finances.
- The Clippers could also look to patch together salary by sign-and-trading Reggie Jackson and/or Patrick Patterson. The team has non-bird rights on both veteran free agents, and can pay each up to around $3 million. Sign-and-trade contracts are required to run for at least 3 years, but only the first season is required to be 100% guaranteed salary. Jackson is unlikely to accept a 3-year, $10M deal, but I could see Patterson doing so. The Thunder (or any other team receiving Patterson) would want to make the last two years non-guaranteed, but taking him on a cheap contract shouldn’t be a dealbreaker if it’s necessary to facilitate a deal this large.
While that outlines a number of options to make the math work, I want to focus on the following package: Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Rodney McGruder, and a Montrezl Harrell sign-and-trade. If Harrell’s signed to a deal starting at less than $13 million, which is a distinct possibility, Joakim Noah’s deal will be partially guaranteed and included in the trade to make up the difference.
Finding a Deal
Of course, finding a mathematically functional package is a different endeavor than finding a mutually agreeable trade. For the aforementioned package, three separate parties need to sign off: the Clippers, the Thunder, and Montrezl Harrell, who can choose his own destination as a free agent. But since forcing Harrell to go to Oklahoma City isn’t an option and a free agency investment in Harrell likely isn’t a part of OKC’s plans (if they were to come to an agreement, great, but let’s assume that’s unlikely), you’d likely need to involve a third team–whichever team Trez agrees to a contract with–and find a way to make participating worthwhile.
For the Clippers, the goal is clear: acquire Chris Paul insofar as he helps your odds of winning a title next season. The Thunder, presumably, want to save money and stockpile assets to continue to turbocharge their rebuild. After breaking down their 2019 team by trading Paul George to the Clippers for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and a package of draft picks, and then taking two first-rounders from the Houston Rockets to eat Chris Paul’s contract in exchange for Russell Westbrook, the money should be a little more important than the assets. After all, Paul doesn’t have a ton of trade value due to his aforementioned age and contract, so flipping him for savings would be a huge win for the Thunder after the Rockets gave up two picks to dump his contract.
McGruder and Williams (and Noah) fit the bill perfectly. They’re on cheap contracts in 2020-21, with Williams expiring next off-season and McGruder non-guaranteed (essentially giving them a $5M team option). I doubt that Lou would ever actually play for the Thunder, but he’d be easy to re-trade and could even net them some value. If Noah is included, his partially-guaranteed minimum salary deal for next season is a perfectly acceptable cost when weighed against the 8-figure savings of moving Paul. Harrell would head to a third team, as discussed above. The sticking point could be Patrick Beverley–a quality 32-year-old veteran role player who isn’t valuable to a rebuilding team and is owed $13.3M in 2020-21 and $14.3M in 2021-22. His deal still represents massive savings next off-season compared to Paul, but it’s probably less than ideal for the Thunder.
Finally, there’s the question of adding value to sweeten the deal for Oklahoma City. Chris Paul, at 35 years old and on his current contract, isn’t bringing back the kind of assets that Paul George did last summer, but the Thunder will still certainly work any angle they can to add value so that they aren’t trading away their best player solely for monetary reasons. Let’s take a look at how the Clippers can address each of these issues.
Montrezl Harrell Sign-and-Trades
Trez is going to go where he wants to go–that’s his right as an unrestricted free agent. It’s up to the Clippers to talk with the teams he’s talking to to see if the framework for a sign-and-trade agreement could be mutually beneficial. If Harrell’s new team wants to execute the transaction that way, he should go along with it, but the Clippers have to make it worth their while.
To a certain extent, this is a waiting game. Lawrence Frank and company are just going to have to wait and see who Harrell draws interest from, and be quick on their feet in constructing creative three-team trades that everyone can be happy with. While free agency can be unpredictable, I’ll narrow in on a few potential/likely Harrell suitors to show what the framework looks like:
- Charlotte: The Hornets were suggested as a landing spot for Trez in a 3-team CP3 trade by ESPN’s Tim Bontemps, and it makes a lot of sense. They’re incredibly low on talent and in desperate need of quality players to round out a rotation and put forth a respectable effort next season as they try to turn the franchise around. Trez can help win regular season games, and he’d bring a much-needed infusion of offensive energy to a squad that finished 30th in points per game, 30th in pace, and 29th in offensive rating last year. They shouldn’t shy away from outbidding other teams for his services now that his value figures to fall in the mid-teens, and he’d have the chance to star in his hometown with guaranteed minutes and touches.
So, let’s say the Hornets want Trez and Trez accepts their offer. Where does a sign-and-trade come in? Charlotte has the cap room to simply sign Harrell outright. But they also have a deal they’d love to move off of their books: Nicolas Batum’s 27M expiring. Batum barely played last season and even if Charlotte doesn’t need to move his deal for cap flexibility, turning that money into some on-court utility and freeing up space to pursue high-upside free agents would benefit them. Batum’s deal would go to Oklahoma City, where he’d provide huge savings compared to Paul, and Beverley, Williams, and McGruder (and potentially Noah) would be split between the Thunder and Hornets.
Similar to with the Thunder, it’s hard to see Williams playing in Charlotte next season. But McGruder’s contract is inoffensive for a replacement-level backup wing (he might actually be in their rotation next year), and Beverley would provide veteran leadership and a defensive-minded guard to complement the Hornet’s offensive-minded duo of Terry Rozier and Devonte’ Graham. Compared to signing Harrell outright and keeping Batum, a McGruder/Beverley pair would be a huge utility upgrade from Batum at a much cheaper cost–though Pat’s guaranteed salary in 2021-22 could again be a sticking point.
- Atlanta: The Hawks, like the Hornets, fit the mold of a team with plentiful cap space to sign Harrell outright, but they also have a deal they’d rather dump if they got the chance. At the trade deadline, the Sacramento Kings gave Atlanta two second-round picks to take on a little extra money by eating the contract of backup center Dewayne Dedmon, who is due to make $13,333,333 in 2020-21 but has just $1 million in guaranteed salary for 2021-22. If the Hawks are pursuing Harrell, then Dedmon clearly isn’t in their future plans, and while paying him to ride the bench for a year and then cutting him next summer isn’t horrible, they’d much rather get rid of that big salary now.
Because the Hawks have so much cap flexibility, they can take back as much money as they want in this trade, so it will be up to the Clippers and Thunder to identify what pieces of LA’s package OKC wants, and who Atlanta is willing to take on. Williams likely isn’t going to play for a losing team, so the Thunder should hold on to him so they can get any value that is to be found from re-trading him. But as with Charlotte, McGruder is a potential rotation piece for Atlanta on an inoffensive contract and Beverley would be a valuable addition as a leader and defensive complement to Trae Young–though Atlanta could balk at adding his salary for 2021-22 if they’re hoping on luring a star free agent to play with Trae next year.
Even if the Hawks don’t want McGruder or Beverley, just sending Harrell to Atlanta in exchange for Dedmon heading to OKC would save the Hawks money and allow the Clippers-Thunder trade to proceed legally.
- New York: I have no idea what the Knicks are going to do this off-season, but they’re a team that’s bad enough to not be bothered by his playoff struggles, talent-starved enough to sell themselves on his offensive firepower, and thin enough at center that there’d be a role for him splitting time with youngster Mitchell Robinson.
What the Knicks don’t have is the kind of big, dead-weight deal that Charlotte and Atlanta have. Julius Randle has a big deal for next season, but he’s the Knicks’ best player and they wouldn’t want to dump him. Bobby Portis’ $15.75M for next season is a team option, so the Knicks can simply decline their option if they don’t want to pay him. Veterans Taj Gibson, Elfrid Payton, and Wayne Ellington have medium-sized deals ($8M each for Payton and Ellington, $9.45M for Gibson) that carry just $1M guarantees.
I expect the Knicks to keep Payton around, but they could cut Gibson and/or Ellington, particularly if they are chasing after multiple free agents (like Harrell and Toronto’s Fred VanVleet, for example). In that case, flipping Gibson and/or Ellington to OKC in a three-team Harrell sign-and-trade would save them the $1M on those deals. It won’t have a big impact, but you’d always rather avoid situations where you’re paying guys to not play for you. Adding one or both of those contracts would also be advantageous for OKC, since they would be able to waive them for just $1M guaranteed each, saving them a lot more money than taking on Batum or Dedmon.
The Knicks have nothing to lose by accepting Harrell in a sign-and-trade deal instead of signing him outright, but they’ll realize that they have a lot of leverage in this situation and likely demand more than just $1-2M in savings to facilitate this deal. A second-rounder would be a fair cost, and it would likely come from the Clippers–either their own 2022 2nd or perhaps the 2023 Detroit 2nd that LAC owns.
The one player holding the Clippers back from offering the Thunder an all-expiring package for Paul and totally clearing their books for the 2021 off-season is Beverley. The question is how much of a deal-breaker that becomes for OKC, or any third team that might add him instead.
The Thunder, after all, will have only rookie deals on their books after next season. If they don’t commit long-term money to anyone this summer, they’re looking at more than two max salary slots for 2021 free agency. In fact, even Beverley’s $14.3M deal wouldn’t interfere with their ability to have double max space. And the Thunder–no offense–aren’t at a place in their rebuild where you’d figure they’re a year away from luring free agent superstars. It’s more likely that they’ll work to keep their talented youth on team-friendly deals, add short-term veterans to round out their rotation and keep the team competitive on a nightly basis, and use their money to absorb unwanted contracts from other teams in exchange for assets. In that case, Beverley is far from interfering with their plans.
If the Thunder are adamant about not taking him, there’s a perfectly decent chance that any team that executes a sign-and-trade for Harrell will be willing to absorb Pat. After all, Hornets could fit Beverley in without adding team salary if they’re moving Batum, and the Hawks and Knicks both have more than enough cap space. All three teams are in need of quality rotation players. The Hawks and Knicks might not want to compromise their dreams of pursuing big-name free agents next year, but Beverley wouldn’t impede their ability to open a max slot unless they take on other long-term money this off-season. The Hornets aren’t going to be players in free agency and they have such enormous flexibility next year that Pat wouldn’t impact any potential pursuit.
If the Clippers find themselves in a situation where Beverley is a sticking point for both teams they’re working with in a 3-team Harrell-CP3 trade, then they’ll have to get creative. The easiest avenue would likely be finding a team that does want Beverley, and then lining up a subsequent trade for whoever ends up with Pat in this trade to flip him to that team. There are options out there–including some of the teams we’ve already talked about.
Notably, the Sacramento Kings wanted Beverley last off-season (albeit under a prior front office regime) and instead settled for Corey Joseph. The Kings don’t have 2021 free agency aspirations, and Beverley would be a nice upgrade for their rotation to give them a veteran defender behind De’Aaron Fox and Bogdan Bogdanovic. Frankly, I buy Beverley’s ability to help out the Hawks, Hornets, and Knicks enough that the two of them who aren’t involved in this three-team deal could be options. The Chicago Bulls would do well to get a hometown player in Beverley to stabilize their point guard position, sending back veteran forward Thaddeus Young’s contract that is only partially guaranteed for 2021-22. There should be teams interested in Bev, even if you aren’t going to get much back for him.
If all of those hurdles are cleared–if Harrell agrees to contract terms with a team that would benefit from a sign-and-trade, and a three-team deal gets worked out with either OKC or the 3rd team agreeing to take on Beverley, or a second trade being lined up to flip Beverley for an expiring contract–then we can finally get to the point of the conversation where we ask: is OKC getting enough back?
The Thunder are not in a position to drive a hard bargain here. They’ll save dozens of millions of dollars in a deal with this framework, clearing the decks for GM Sam Presti to have unmatched flexibility as he tries to craft a winner out of his collection of assets. And while the Clippers are certainly getting the best player in the trade, they’re losing their starting point guard, twin sixth men who each averaged 18 points a game last year, and a veteran depth wing who was a rotation guy for most of last season.
For the Clippers, adding substantial additional value to the deal makes building a roster untenable. Just as I said Ivica Zubac’s inclusion was a dealbreaker as he’s a cost-controlled 23-year-old starter, it’s really, really hard to think the Clippers would include Landry Shamet in a deal here, unless perhaps a rival like the Lakers was somehow able to put together a legitimately better package and Shamet was needed to win OKC over in a bidding war. If Shamet was included, LAC would lose 5 members of last season’s 10-man rotation for one 35-year-old starter with a history of injuries, and they’d have just the taxpayer mid-level exception to add one player.
With Shamet and Green staying, the Clippers can use the taxpayer MLE on a a solid 8th man and round out the rotation through a combination of prospects competing with veterans on minimum deals.
If the breaking point here is one of the other young Clippers, like Terance Mann, Mfiondu Kabengele, or a new rookie they select in the second round of the 2020 NBA Draft, you probably accept that Presti will need the pot sweetened a bit. The Clippers can’t trade a first-round pick–OKC already has them all–but they do have all of their own 2nd rounders starting in 2022 and Detroit’s 2023 2nd, as mentioned above.
The best chance to add draft assets to this deal, though, would be to find it in the existing package. Lou Williams doesn’t make sense for a Thunder team that has Dennis Schroder, and a rebuilding OKC franchise doesn’t make sense for the 34-year-old Williams. He can help a good team, though, just like he has been crucial to the Clippers’ attack in recent years. What kind of asset could a good team be persuaded to part with in order to land Lou?
Without doing a comprehensive look around the league, a reunion with Doc Rivers on the Philadelphia 76ers makes a ton of sense. The Sixers desperately need a guard who can create perimeter offense and have very limited flexibility to pursue one. A package of Mike Scott and Norvel Pelle would allow Philly to take back Lou’s salary, and then it’s a matter of negotiating value. The Sixers could trade their 2021 1st round pick (with protections in case they miss the playoffs), basically giving a pick in the 20s up to add Williams now. Or, their war chest of 2nd round picks would allow them to give the Thunder a couple–including a valuable pick swap deal that will give the Sixers the best out of of Charlotte, Atlanta, and Brooklyn’s 2nd in 2023. The exact details of the compensation would likely hinge on what other offers Presti (or Frank, calling around in advance to pitch Presti) can procure for Williams. Like the suggested Beverley deals, a Lou re-trade would make the most sense as a separate trade without further complicating the original 3-team deal.
To simplify things, let me draw out the frameworks of the suggested trades made in this column:
LAC – OKC – CHA 3-team trade
LAC gets: Chris Paul
LAC gives: Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Rodney McGruder, Montrezl Harrell (sign-and-trade), Joakim Noah (if needed, pending Harrell’s new salary)
LAC rationale: The Clippers sacrifice depth, but add a legitimate third star and floor general, while holding on to enough to still have a strong 8-man rotation next post-season.
OKC gets: Nicolas Batum, Lou Williams
OKC gives: Chris Paul
OKC rationale: The Thunder save $6M in 2020-21 salary and an astounding $44 million in 2021-22 salary. Williams’ expiring is also a valuable asset for good teams looking to add a scoring punch, especially since players of his caliber won’t be available at that price point in free agency without committing multiple years of salary and compromising 2021 free agency.
CHA gets: Patrick Beverley, Rodney McGruder, Montrezl Harrell (sign-and-trade)
CHA gives: Nicolas Batum
CHA rationale: This deal assumes the Hornets wanted to sign Montrezl Harrell anyway, so in essence the trade is Beverley and McGruder for Batum. As long as Beverley’s 2021-22 salary isn’t a big issue–and it shouldn’t be, since Charlotte isn’t a free agent destination and would likely be able to flip his deal if they needed to anyway–it’s an absolute no-brainer to save money and add useful players.
LAC – OKC – ATL 3-team trade
LAC gets: Chris Paul
LAC gives: Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Rodney McGruder, Montrezl Harrell (sign-and-trade), Joakim Noah (if needed, pending Harrell’s new salary)
LAC rationale: Same as above.
OKC gets: Dewayne Dedmon, Lou Williams, Patrick Beverley (maybe), Rodney McGruder (maybe)
OKC gives: Chris Paul
OKC rationale: Same as above–they save a little money this year, a boatload of money next year, and get to flip Lou Williams for potential additional savings and/or assets. Plus, if they don’t want Beverley and/or McGruder and Atlanta does, the Hawks have the cap room to absorb one or both of those contracts and potentially create huge additional savings for the Thunder.
ATL gets: Montrezl Harrell (sign-and-trade), Patrick Beverley (maybe), Rodney McGruder (maybe)
ATL gives: Dewayne Dedmon
ATL rationale: Again, this assumes the Hawks were going to sign Harrell anyway, so getting rid of Dedmon’s money is a nice free salary dump. Plus, if they want Beverley and/or McGruder, they’d have the opportunity to add rotation players for free to help OKC save more money.
LAC – OKC – NYK 3-team trade
LAC gets: Chris Paul
LAC gives: Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Rodney McGruder, Montrezl Harrell (sign-and-trade), Joakim Noah (if needed, pending Harrell’s new salary), 2nd round pick
LAC rationale: Same as above.
OKC gets: Taj Gibson and/or Etwaun Moore, Lou Williams, Patrick Beverley (maybe), Rodney McGruder (maybe)
OKC gives: Chris Paul
OKC rationale: Same as above–marginal short-term savings, big savings next year, flipping Lou for assets, and potentially passing Beverley and/or McGruder along to NYK for more savings. Plus, the low guarantees on Gibson and Moore’s contracts could allow OKC additional savings, pending timing on the trade and guarantee dates in the re-scheduled free agency.
Patrick Beverley re-trade to Sacramento
[Team X] gets: Corey Joseph
[Team X] gives: Patrick Beverley
[Team X] rationale: Whoever ends up with Pat’s two-year contract, whether it’s OKC, Atlanta, Charlotte, or New York, might choose to flip him for a downgrade at backup guard in exchange for the additional flexibility afforded by Joseph’s deal, which is guaranteed for just $1 million next season.
SAC gets: Patrick Beverley
SAC gives: Corey Joseph
SAC rationale: Beverley is an upgrade over Joseph, and this is one of what could be several moves the Kings make where acknowledging that 2021 cap room won’t do them any good allows them to win trades with teams who are looking to free up 2021 room of their own. Sacramento won’t make shortsighted deals, but Beverley’s contract is far from an albatross and is just one year away from being a valuable expiring they can re-trade, just like Joseph’s now.
Lou Williams re-trade to Philadelphia
OKC gets: Mike Scott, Norvel Pelle, PHI 2021 1st (top 20 protected, rolls over to 2 2nds)
OKC gives: Lou Williams
OKC rationale: The rebuilding Thunder cash in on a 34-year-old veteran who doesn’t want to play on a lottery team, adding a late 1st round pick in next year’s draft to their war chest.
PHI gets: Lou Williams
PHI gives: Mike Scott, Norvel Pelle, PHI 2021 1st (top 20 protected, rolls over to 2 2nds)
PHI rationale: The Sixers’ stars are still young, but they’ve been dysfunctional enough that another underwhelming season with a newly-hired, respected head coach would likely mean it’s time to go in a new direction. They’ll want to give themselves the best possible chance to succeed this year, and Williams is a player that Doc Rivers is familiar with who addresses a major need. If it works out, a pick in the 20s next year is a small price to pay. If it doesn’t, it’ll only cost them 2 2nds. The Sixers could try to haggle by just giving 2 2nds outright and not bothering with protecting the 1st, and it’s possible that deal gets done too.
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