Blackhawks

Rising NBA star signs lucrative extension

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Rising NBA star signs lucrative extension

From Comcast SportsNetOKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- The Oklahoma City Thunder signed All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook to a multiyear contract extension on Thursday. Westbrook was set to become a restricted free agent at the end of the season, meaning the Thunder would have had to match any offer he received from another team. Instead, they locked him up with a new deal 15 games into this season. Terms were not disclosed. Oklahoma City has the best record in the Western Conference, with Westbrook averaging 20.5 points, 5.5 assists and 5.0 rebounds. He was chosen as an All-Star for the first time last season. "We are thrilled to solidify Russell's future with the Thunder," general manager Sam Presti said in a statement. "Since we arrived in Oklahoma City, Russell's work ethic, persistence, character, and involvement in our community have helped us establish the standards that we are committed to on a day-to-day basis. He is a valued member of our organization and we look forward to his continued contributions on and off the floor." Westbrook made the All-NBA second team last season after averaging 21.9 points, 8.2 assists and1.9 steals -- ranking among the top 15 in the league in all three categories. The Thunder made it to the Western Conference finals last season, losing to the Dallas Mavericks. He scored a season-high 36 points in Oklahoma City's 105-102 loss at Washington on Wednesday night. The Thunder had an off day Thursday during a three-game East Coast road trip and Westbrook was not immediately available for comment. They play Saturday night at New Jersey and the team plans a news conference after returning to Oklahoma City.

Start of the Blackhawks Dynasty, Part 4: Roster overview

Start of the Blackhawks Dynasty, Part 4: Roster overview

In a 10-part series, we look back at the 10-year anniversary of the 2008-09 season, the start of the Blackhawks dynasty.

Starting a dynasty means you have to identify a group of core players to build your team around. Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews were those guys, along with Marian Hossa, who joined that mix later on.

You also need a mixture of young talent and strong veterans to fill out the depth to become successful. That's exactly what the Blackhawks had at the beginning of their dynasty and throughout.

On the first day of NHL free agency in 2008, the Blackhawks inked All-Star defenseman Brian Campbell to an eight-year deal, which solidified Chicago as a destination players wanted to commit to long term. That same year, Kris Versteeg emerged as the Blackhawks' third Calder Trophy candidate in two years, Martin Havlat and Andrew Ladd set a career high in points with 77 and 49, respectively, while youngsters Dave Bolland, Troy Brouwer and Dustin Byfuglien began to make a name for themselves as valuable pieces to the puzzle.

"Real good group of guys," Joel Quenneville said on Oct. 18, 2008. "I can say that it's the first time I walked in the room where, wow, I was impressed."

Six of the Blackhawks' Top 10 scorers in 2008-09 were aged 23 or younger. The average age for the other four? 27. The youth movement was real and they all contributed in a big way.

Cubs Talk Podcast: Cubs offense takes a step in right direction, when will rotation follow?

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Cubs offense takes a step in right direction, when will rotation follow?

For the first time in almost two weeks, the Cubs offense started to look more like the team we know they can be in Wednesday afternoon's victory over the Brewers. But when will the starting rotation follow? Kyle Hendricks pitched better than his stat line once again, but it's getting late in the season to continue to use that rationale for any Cubs starter.

Kelly Crull and Tony Andracki break down the Cubs-Brewers series and Kelly sits down with David Bote for a 1-on-1 chat about his whirlwind week. Leila Rahimi also catches up with MLB Network's Dan Plesac to get his thoughts on Javy Báez's place in the NL MVP race, how the Central division is shaping up and X-factors for the Cubs and Brewers down the stretch.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below: