This was top-secret stuff. Big stakes. Promises. Intrigue. The stuff of an international NBA spy thriller. It was more than an hour before tip off at the Rose Garden on Thursday and I found Los Angeles Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro in the visiting coach's office, circling jersey numbers his lineup card.

I introduced myself to Del Negro. Then, told him I wasn't as interested in talking about the Blazers-Clippers game as I was talking about the other big game. You know, the one that had the Clippers coach text messaging promises to free-agent guard J.R. Smith, locked up in a do-or-die recruiting battle with the New York Knicks.

Said Del Negro: "You have my attention."

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