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August 07, 2009

Some responses to your questions

Hey, all.

I've been off the past two weeks, the first of those on the leave all Observer employees must take this financial quarter. I was with my parents, who are elderly and in poor health. Only reason I mention all that is I couldn't help with the Okafor trade coverage.

Some of you emailed me, thinking I was ducking the whole thing. Come on, really? I've never been afraid to say what I think in this space, and that's what ticks off some of you.

So I figured I should chime in on some questions many of you sent during my absence:

Is the Okafor trade good or bad for the Bobcats?

It's neither and both. And that's what makes the Bobcats frustrating to cover right now. This happened for two reasons – coach Larry Brown wasn't all that excited about Okafor's potential to improve and owner Bob Johnson wasn't all that excited about the money and years left on the contract. Tyson Chandler more fits Brown's concept of a center – longer and more athletic. Swapping Okafor's contract for Chandler's knocks about $40 million off the Bobcats' future obligations. That makes it easier to sell the team or – if he can't sell it – easier to pay the bills.

I think Okafor-for-Chandler is a wash. You stats freaks will claim otherwise, but the thing that always concerned me about Okafor was his lack of improvement. He was the same player as a rookie as he was the day he was traded.

Will Allen Iverson be a Bobcat?

If so, don't you think he'd already be signed? The Bobcats are in salary-cap jail. They're inching toward the luxury-tax threshold and still don't know what it will cost to retain Raymond Felton. And – one way or the other – Felton will be a Bobcat next season. General manager Rod Higgins is on record as saying the team is unlikely to sign any free agent for more than the veteran minimum. Other teams have already offered Iverson way more than the veteran minimum. So why are you wait for the Bobcats to sign Iverson?

And, by the way, be careful what you wish for: I recognize the Bobcats were last in the league in scoring. But this isn't a fantasy league, it's a real, live group. The best thing about the Bobcats is they function as a team. Iverson is on record -- multiple times -- as saying he couldn't accept anything less than a starring role. I just don't think he's a good fit here.

What do you think of Gerald Henderson's summer-league experience?

I thought he was the same player they drafted. Is it a revelation he can't make a 20-foot jump shot? No. He's a smart player who can defend and drive. Look at Brown's history: He values that. And shooting is typically something that can improve with work. It's WAY too early to draw major conclusions.

So what do they do for a backup power forward?

Not much, I suspect. And that should trouble you. They're clearly waiting around to see who'll settle for the veteran minimum. That has already eliminated Rasheed Wallace, Antonio McDyess, Drew Gooden, Hakim Warrick, etc. This reminds me of that Peanuts cartoon where Lucy has a box of chocolates, and gives Linus whatever stuff Lucy would never eat. The Bobcats' backup power forward will be equivalent to whatever Lucy passed on to Linus.

Does Felton ever get signed?

Sure. Just don't know whether it's a long-term deal or the one-year qualifying offer. I don't often chuckle at other media outlets, but I found it funny when si.com reported that Felton hasn't been offered what he or his agent wants and he might have to sign the qualifying offer. Really?

I knew that and many of you knew that. In fact, if I wrote that like it was a revelation, many of you would have mocked me for how obvious it was. Bottom line: If Felton doesn't work out a long-term deal, he'll still bust his butt on a one-year qualifying offer. Raymond isn't a great player, but he cares and he wants to keep playing for Brown. He'll make the best of whatever happens.

Will the team still be sold?

Slightly more than 50-50 chance by the start of the season. It's not for a lack of motivation on Johnson's part. These things are tough to work out, particularly in these economic times. But anyone who claims there's not a concerted effort to sell the Bobcats is flat-out lying.

If I were Michael Jordan, I'd be concerned about. ...

Exhausting Larry Brown's patience. Brown is the smartest basketball guy in the history of this organization. He's a total pain-in-the-butt, but he's worth it. He came here for two reasons: To restore his reputation and because he trusted Jordan to do the right thing. They've slipped behind the Raptors and Wizards this off-season and I don't see them making the playoffs next season without an abundance of luck (i.e. injuries devastating other teams).

The day Brown leaves is the day hope dies, and the Bobcats don't have much hope to waste.

Posted by Observer Sports on August 7, 2009 at 11:36 PM | Permalink


Great post Rick, maybe the best I've read you put up. Just fresh and candid. Sorry to hear about your folks, and I don't blame you for taking furlough the last two weeks of July. As an NBA beat writer, those have to be the two safest weeks for no news of the year.

Posted by: Jon | Aug 8, 2009 12:19:02 AM

Oh, and I thought you perfectly summed it up when you said "The day Brown leaves is the day hope dies". Eloquent and perfectly accurate in expressing the state of our franchise.

Posted by: Jon | Aug 8, 2009 12:20:25 AM

Ah, Rick, so pessimistic. We aren't a favorite to make the playoffs? This starting group was over .500, and was one of the top in the NBA in +/-, and we've added two lottery quality picks. Chicago got worse, Detroit's a wash, and Washington's banking on a couple guys who get hurt. We also have Larry Brown, who's never failed to make the playoffs in his first or second year with a team, and oh yeah, we're in the East. Why can't we make the playoffs?

Posted by: Teej | Aug 8, 2009 1:29:52 AM

I understand your comments about the 'cats staying as far away from the luxury tax as possible, but the desperately need a pf, and could have gotten warrick (signed 1yr 3 mil deal) or diogu (prob. even cheaper) who could have been quality backups with favorable contracts. At worst may was a cheap option who was already familiar with the system. Im not sold on just money being the issue, maybe they believe the 2nd rounder will be able to produce?

Posted by: awayne83 | Aug 8, 2009 1:52:36 AM


"Stats freak" here. Okafor shoots a much higher percentage than he did as a rookie. So he's improved in SOME way--maybe in that he plays more "within himself" on offense.

I still don't understand the "Chandler is longer" comments when the NBA pre-draft measurements say otherwise. Surely a skinny 235 lb. Center LOOKS longer. Okafor's length is hidden by his musclebound 6'10" 255 lb. physique.

Can't argue with much else. Enjoyed this blog entry for the most part.

Posted by: DeLaQuest | Aug 8, 2009 1:57:44 AM

Consistent double-doubles and good shotblocking: If 'Mek didn't improve, at least he "got an A+ in pilates/stretching" and figured out how to stay healthy. Let's hope Chandler figures out how to stay on the court rather than on the bench in street clothes.

Posted by: DeLaQuest | Aug 8, 2009 2:03:39 AM

Maybe it'll go like this: Either Chandler or Diaw(or both) will always be on the court to make sure the opposing PF is guarded. Otherwise, in the case of an injury, pray to God D.Brown is beyond his years.

I expect a lot of Diop/Chandler or Mohammed/Chandler lineups when Diaw sits. Chandler's perimeter defensive ability is the on-court silver lining in losing Okafor.

Posted by: DeLaQuest | Aug 8, 2009 2:08:58 AM

I still don't understand why people think that Toronto's gotten better than the 'Cats. OK, yes they added Turkoglu but they traded away Marion so while they may have a slightly better starting 5, they have no depth. Chicago got worse and Detroit stayed about the same. I think the 8 playoff teams from the East are going to be Boston, Cleveland, Orlando, Washington, Atlanta, Miami, Detroit, Charlotte in that order.

Posted by: Reid | Aug 8, 2009 2:28:09 AM

Wow Rick...it seems like you finally scratch some itches that have been bothering you for a few weeks...I like what you are saying, but you do seem a bit cranky...I guess I would too if I just spent a month with my sick folks...anyway

Question for you. Do you enjoy covering the Bobcats more/less than the (Charlotte) Hornets? What did you like/dislike about covering them and what do you like/dislike about covering the Cats? Just curious...

Posted by: Ocracoma | Aug 8, 2009 4:56:37 AM

SYPRIS, or Delaquest as you like to be called now, lol, the Cats finished below 500 last year with Chokafors double, doubles and still didnt make it to the playoffs and never have in his whole time here. Double, doubles are pointless and mean something to only fantasy sports. Chandlers team on the other hand made it to the playoffs and finished above 500. I would much rather take that gamble on Chandlers injuries because his potential and athleticism will mean alot more when hes on the court compared to the non impact Chokafor made in his 82 games last year.

Posted by: D.W.G | Aug 8, 2009 6:38:29 AM

Good stuff Rick, and welcome back.

"The day Brown leaves is the day hope dies, and the Bobcats don't have much hope to waste."

Very well said.

Posted by: spectre | Aug 8, 2009 6:41:51 AM

I think the comments about Chandler playing 'longer' are more a representation of his athleticism. He is much more 'springy' and that allows him to cover a much wider and taller area than Okafor. He may not get the blocks (which is instinct related) but he alters shots.

As far as the pre-draft measurements (Chandler was out of high school...Okafor was a college Junior). It's very possible Chandler wasn't done growing.

Having said that...I was always an Okafor fan, my name was generated after he had 10 blocks in a game, though not just for Emeka, Gerald and Boris have had their success with blocks for our team.

Posted by: BlockParty | Aug 8, 2009 7:21:19 AM

One nice benefit of Okafor trade is I don't have to watch his layups get blocked so much. I liked Emeka but it happened far too often. Larry Brown isn't going to stick around if every personnel move is made to make team easier to sell. I believe he'll continue to apply pressure.

Posted by: Les Porter | Aug 8, 2009 7:58:04 AM

I think the Okafor/Chandler trade filled both sides' wishes just like Rick said.

If LB wasn't happy about the deal no doubt we'd have heard it at least five times by now in the media. I certainly don't see him sitting up there lying about how much TC will help us if he didn't think it.

Posted by: spectre | Aug 8, 2009 11:44:13 AM

Excellent post, Rick.

Posted by: HJ | Aug 8, 2009 12:06:01 PM

I really enjoy covering the Bobcats because that locker room is so full of good people. In this age of crazy salaries and entourages, it's not easy to cover a group of major-league athletes who are this even-handed and grounded. Emeka, for instance, is one of the really good people in sports. Same for Gerald Wallace and Raymond Felton -- stand-up guys.
The Hornets were more prone to bring in people of dubious character. That they would replace Vlade Divac (arguably best teammate ever) with Derrick Coleman (among worst teammates ever) said how little that franchise valued character in the locker room.

Posted by: Rick Bonnell | Aug 8, 2009 12:06:35 PM

That last part made me laugh, but it was a sad laugh. I mean, the day Larry Brown leaves, hope leaves makes sense. And Larry Brown is an individual who has a long track record of leaving, sooner rather than later.

I still have faith in the group. I love the Okafor trade. I think DJ Augustine will be a star. I think Henderson will be a quality guy. I think Boris will have a huge second season with the team. I think Radmanovic will contribute more.

So there's hope.

Posted by: Juan José | Aug 8, 2009 1:55:23 PM

If they're so concerned with saving money why don't they just NOT sign a veteran at all and give some minutes to Brown/Ajinca... or if Chandler can really play PF, let Diop and Nazr play some minutes at center.

It seems like they're going to end up signing a guy that ownership doesn't want to pay, and LB doesn't want to play.

Posted by: David | Aug 8, 2009 2:55:27 PM

I am very frustrated with the Bobcats. They had a chance to sign multiple power forwards this summer and have not....hell, they could have offered glen davis 4.5mill per year and he would have been a bobcat. They could have offered warrick 4mill a year and he would be a bobcat...just to name two legitimate guys who would be great backup pf's that we desperately need ! Those numbers I listed are significantly lower than the mid-level (around 5.8mill) that people are saying the team is willing to spend. Even if they sign Iverson, Though maybe not the best fit on this team, he would bring scoring to the team, butts to the seats, and a little more money to the Bobcats organization. And Rick, I do not know what you are talking about by saying Iverson has recieved offers of more than 5.8 million a season. He absolutely has not ! Im sure Raja would take a backseat if asked to come off the bench in order for Iverson to start at 2 guard. If the Bobcats paid iverson 5mill/yr and told him he would start....he would be here...period. This team has a chance to make the playoffs but lady luck does have to be on their side. They are due...and the city of charlotte is due....spend a little money and grab a backup pf please !!!

Posted by: Elliot | Aug 8, 2009 3:30:20 PM


The problem with your post is everything you mentioned is based off of pure speculation. The Bobcats did go after Warrick. His decision was based on playing time.

Posted by: DS | Aug 8, 2009 4:04:14 PM


The problem with your post is everything you mentioned is based off of pure speculation. The Bobcats did go after Warrick. His decision was based on playing time.

Posted by: DS | Aug 8, 2009 4:04:15 PM

I just partied with Kelli the ladycat and a lot of the Bobcats staff last night. The energy in that building was 110% positive as if we are already a playoff team.
No one has a crystal ball, but a lot of dedicated employees and season ticket holders finally believe this IS our year. THE BOBCATS WILL MAKE THE PLAYOFFS THIS SEASON!!

Posted by: T-Bro | Aug 8, 2009 4:22:30 PM

David - Bobcats are REQUIRED to have at least 13 and no more than 15 signed players by league agreement with the Players Union. The league must average 14 signed players.

Thus, the cheapest alternative is to sign a player to the minimum allowed to get to 13 players (right now there are 12 under contract for 2009-2010)

So that veterans have the same opportuntiy for employment as the younger guys, if the team signs a veteran to a minimum 1 year contract ("minimum" as defined by the Union Agreeemnt), the team only pays the player the two year minimum of $825,000; the league pays the rest (e.g. a 10 year veteran gets a minimum of $1.3mm - so if we sign a 10 year veteran to that minimum, the Bobcats pay $825,000 and the league pays the rest).

Posted by: bobfan1 | Aug 8, 2009 5:11:33 PM

This article is somewhat depressing, as it points out the facts that the team still has some major holes and probably will once again not be a playoff team. I was hopeful for Iverson's scoring punch, but as Rick pointed out, if the CAts were really interested he would have been signed shortly after free agency began. On the positive side, I do believe in Larry Brown. He is one of the great coaches I have watched during my time as a sports fan, so the best hope is that he works his magic and the team continues to improve while the overhauling of the roster continues. Also, I think it's pretty imperative for Jordan to reamin involved with the team, best case as the majority owner.

Posted by: Ari | Aug 8, 2009 5:27:48 PM

Well stated Rick. You hit it on the nose except for the Bobcats missing the playoffs.

The Bobcats will have the end of year lineup back except for Center. This lineup has chemistry. Chicago, Detroit, Miami, and Philly are slipping. We finished 16 games ahead of Washington last year. No way the Wizards have improved that much and we have not. Arenas back from injury does not make an All-Star. These teams shuffled some players, they did not improve.

Also in my opinion, Chandler's game resembles a 7'+ Gerald Wallace. We'll see.

Posted by: Disclosure | Aug 8, 2009 5:42:40 PM

Hey Rick,

Any word on how DJ did at the Team USA minicamp? Just being around that calibur of players is going to make him that much better.

Posted by: MJC | Aug 8, 2009 8:19:32 PM

I think it's funny that the Bobcats are approaching the luxury tax threshold now, where just 2-3 years ago everyone was criticizing them for having such a low payroll......... even though they really didn't have a choice in the matter.

Great post Rick, thanks.

Posted by: redhotdave | Aug 8, 2009 9:27:32 PM

Hi Rick, it's good to have you back. I generally agree with your comments, though I still think that in the last trade the Bobcats got the better deal on its financial side, while the Hornets did better on its basketball side. Not only Chandler never amounted to much in offense, but mainly, it's his durability (or, lack of it) that worries me. Still, if Larry Brown wants something, it's better to let him have his way, rather than let him get sulky and cantankerous that he can't have a roster meeting his expectations... And you're absolutely right, it's worth it. Anybody who saw how a team coached by Larry Brown can play (including the Bobcats before Raja Bell's injury) knows why.
Rick, now that the list of available power forwards is so thinned down, what would you say about re-signing Juwan Howard? After all, he did a really good job last season, he's fully committed to staying in great shape, and he'd be needed for limited minutes only.

Posted by: Sandy | Aug 9, 2009 1:20:16 AM

Hi Rick, it's good to have you back. I generally agree with your comments, though I still think that in the last trade the Bobcats got the better side of the deal financially, while the Hornets did better on its basketball side. Not only Chandler never amounted to much in offense, but mainly, it's his durability (or, lack of it) that worries me. Still, if Larry Brown wants something, it's better to let him have his way, rather than let him get sulky and cantankerous that he can't have a roster that meets his expectations... And you're absolutely right, it's worth it. Anyone who saw how a team coached by Larry Brown can play (including the Bobcats before Raja Bell's injury) should know why.
Rick, now that the list of available power forwards is so thinned down, what would you say about re-signing Juwan Howard? After all, he did a really good job last season, he's totally committed to staying in great shape, and he'd be needed for limited minutes only.

Posted by: Sandy | Aug 9, 2009 1:36:10 AM

I was under the assumption that Dontell Jefferson was still with the team. If he isn't then wouldn't LB also want the organization to bring in another guard who could handle the ball? Rick is spot on when he stated that the cats are just waiting for the rest of the leagues scraps.

Very frustrating from a fans point of view, would be interesting to see an article in the observer documenting the history of the bobcats salary cap situation. Seems like in just a few moves they made a number of decisions that are going to hamper the team for years.

Posted by: David | Aug 9, 2009 1:38:23 AM

I have always thought of the Cats as "nice guys" that play hard and do the right things. The Hornets always had drama surrounding them. LJ's mega contract, Zo's departure, Kobe draft & trade, Derrick Coleman, Bobby Phills, George Shinn's problems...we could go on. But the Hornets teams were always competitive, the arena atmosphere was more electric, so, I would imagine that covering the team as a beat writer would have been more interesting and maybe sold more papers.

But, then again, in the daily grind, it's always nice to work with people that are genuine and sincere, like Okafor or Felton....

Here is my take on the trade: Chandler doesn't really provide anything different from Okafor, but he brings something that Mek did not. Energy. He seems like a nice guy and all, but perhaps has an edge to his game, a little nastiness, and I think the Cat's need that more than anything. Raja has a little bit of that intensity in him, we've seen it before in Phoenix guarding Kobe, and that's the sort of thing that's gong to push this group over the edge. I just wish Emeka had a nasty streak in him. He really was sort of robotic out there and rarely showed emotion except when he was called for fouls.

Tyson brings very similar numbers, if healthy, but maybe a little more emotion that the rest of the team can feed off of.

I know you've been at this gig for a long time and you are professional, but does it frustrate you when a guy like Emeka or Vlade leaves town?

On a personal note, I remember a piece you did on Kendall Gill back in 1993. It was very personal and candid. He discussed his difficult childhood, battles with depression from not being the player he was supposed to be, traded to Seattle and back to Charlotte. I always felt more connected to those old players because of your work. I guess, in a way, I'm saying it would be cool to see some more candid get-to-know-ya type of articles. Maybe not with the Roy Firestone tears, but you know...let us in. I think the Bobcats have struggled with connecting with the city and fans, and usually you are the lone voice between the team and the fans.

Anyway, thanks for fielding questions, you really do a great job!

Posted by: Ocracoma | Aug 9, 2009 5:36:19 AM

I'm going to carry us to the 8th seed.

Posted by: Boris Diaw | Aug 9, 2009 9:35:55 AM

I never wrote Iverson has been offered more than $5.8 million. I think you're confusing the veteran minimum with the mid-level exception, which are VERY different.

Posted by: rick bonnell | Aug 9, 2009 1:10:44 PM

Rick -

Why didn't the Bobcats try to keep Cartier Martin? He played really well in summer league and didn't play that bad last year when they Cats had him signed. Not sure why they wouldn't try to keep him to a small salary.

Posted by: Brett Johnson | Aug 9, 2009 2:17:33 PM

thank you for replacing the clippers as the worst franchise in the league.

Posted by: elgin baylor | Aug 9, 2009 2:38:09 PM

The trade happened 2 weeks ago, why have we not formally introduced Chandler or had a press conference with him ??? N.O. has already introduced okafor.....

Posted by: Elliot | Aug 9, 2009 4:26:13 PM

Rick pray your parents get well.Bobcats will make playoffs,Larry Brown will have his players for a full training camp,and there is one more trade to be done.

Posted by: Efriem | Aug 9, 2009 11:52:21 PM

Great post Rick! Very informative. Although I don't agree that Chandler/Okafor is a wash. I've never been a fan of Oke. If Chandler can stay healthy it will make a huge difference in the middle... about 6 inches worth (height + wingspan). Can't teach that. Okafor was a goob who wouldn't improve.

Posted by: flanahan32 | Aug 10, 2009 8:11:55 AM

Hey, Rick!
Nice to have you back and I like the Q and A article. The questions I have concern the sell of the team. Have you heard anything about an individual or group who maybe interested in purchasing the team? I know Michael Jordan was interested at one time, could he buy the team and could Larry Brown be a part of the ownership group? And, will the team stay in Charlotte?

Thanks for your response.

Posted by: Trublucatfan | Aug 10, 2009 9:15:35 AM

welcome back, welcome back, welcome back!!! (to the 'welcome back kotter' theme song)

Posted by: Bobcat Terry | Aug 10, 2009 10:08:26 AM

"The day Brown leaves is the day hope dies, and the Bobcats don't have much hope to waste."

Uh, yeah, and the day that Bob Johnson sells the team to qualified ownership is the day that Bobcats fans can't stop "hoping" for success and start "expecting" it.

Imagine it, an organization with an actual business plan. A real General Manager and not a bunch of Jordan's cronies and college buddies. A coach who is a part of the personnel process and who customizes his game plan to players' strengths instead of shipping guys out of town who don't fit his rigid requirements.

Fans of the Spurs, Mavericks, Rockets, Blazers, Lakers, Jazz, Celtics, Thunder, etc don't have to "hope" for a shot at success, they expect it. Our day will come, Bobcats fans. Just sit tight and wait for Johnson to sell the team (and "hope" that Jordan isn't the one buying).

Posted by: ASChin | Aug 10, 2009 4:27:09 PM

I've not understood the AI speculation. Was there ever really any chance Larry Brown would want him here? I just didn't see it at all, and thank goodness.

As for "hope ending with Larry Brown", good Lord I hope not. At some point soon, there will be a new ownership team and therefore some form of new perspective. When Larry Brown leaves; "hopefully" the team will be on solid ground and looking forward to a bright future under whatever heir takes over.

Posted by: Keetch | Aug 10, 2009 5:17:37 PM

The pessimistic journalist returns...if the Bobcats don't make the playoffs, he will sit back and say I told you so, if they break through, have a good season and make it, he will call it an improbable accomplishment or talk about how bad the other teams are that didn't make it, instead of giving the team their due.

Posted by: Jimmy | Aug 10, 2009 5:40:20 PM


Okafor's lack of improvement should be irrelevant, since he, as is, is a better player than Tyson Chandler.

Chandler's been in the league what, 8 years? Do you really think he's going to improve? The answer is no. And even if he does, chances are he still will be inferior to Okafor.

Don't even get me started on the health aspect.

Will see how much of a wash this trade is when Chandler's not even putting in 10 point per game next season, and Okafor's in the ASG.

Posted by: RP | Aug 10, 2009 6:48:48 PM

Welcome back and great post! I, much like yourself, have considered the trade thus far to be a wash as well.

I am, however, concerned, about some of these fans who haven't been paying attention to FA signings and trades. Wizards get a healthy Agent Zero back and traded for a quality starting pt guard in Foye and a hired gun in Mike Miller. Raptors WILL be better with Hedo. Marion only played there in 27 games. Hedo tends to play full seasons. In my opinion, at this point, there are at best only 2 playoff spots that several teams will be fighting for because Bos, Orl, Clev, Atl, Tor, Mia...I'd say are definitely in. So that leaves 4-5 teams, Chi, Was, Det, and Charlotte all fighting for 2 spots...Phi (needs a PG, they're in trouble). When you look at those 5 remaining teams, at this moment, I would NOT rank us above the Bulls or Wizards.

Your final statement is profound...but here's one of my favorites...

HOPE... is not a strategy.

Posted by: dtnnc | Aug 10, 2009 8:40:07 PM


I politely disagree.


Posted by: ASChin | Aug 11, 2009 2:23:29 AM


Would Linas Kleiza have been a good signing for a backup forward?

Posted by: Fred | Aug 12, 2009 3:34:31 PM


Would Linas Kleiza have made a good signing for a backup forward?

Posted by: Fred | Aug 12, 2009 3:35:24 PM

Im gonna have to disagree with you Rick. I think the Bobcats make the playoffs this year. They don't have the big name star but all of Larry Brown teams didn't have the big name player with one exception that Allen Iverson in Phili. Once the Bobcats made the trade for Diaw and Bell they were playing above 500 basketball. That all you need to do in the east. Larry Brown is also the best coach in the East along with Doc Rivers.

Posted by: jsn23nc | Sep 15, 2009 3:47:06 PM

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