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.

Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

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Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

BRIGHTON, Mass. – While David Pastrnak, Tuukka Rask and David Backes are back from competing in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, that doesn’t mean you’ll see those players on the ice over the next couple of days. Perhaps the trio will practice on Monday in the fourth on-ice session at main training camp, but Bruins GM Don Sweeney confirmed that none of those returning players will suit up against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the B’s preseason debut at TD Garden on Monday night.

“Yeah…absolutely,” said Sweeney when asked if those three players have been ruled out for Monday night. “They’re going to get through the weekend here. Next week, we’ll evaluate [them] when they get on the ice. But, all those guys will not be on the ice until next week.

“It might be case-by-case for each guy. Those guys have been playing for a while at a high level. It’s unique for David Backes coming into the organization, so he’d like to integrate himself. I talked yesterday with all three of them just to get a read of where they’re at. But, sometime first of next week, they’ll be on [the ice].”

Both Pastrnak and Rask have checked in with the Bruins media over the last couple of days after returning from Toronto, and the Bruins goaltender, in particular, has plenty of motivation coming off a down statistical season. The 2.56 goals against average and .915 save percentage were well below his career numbers, and people like B’s President Cam Neely have pointed to Rask as somebody that needs to have a better season for Boston to rebound back into the playoffs this year.

“There were a couple of years where the standards pretty high, so obviously when they go down there’s something to rebound from. You kind of know where you can be. That’s where I try to be every year and I’m working on being there this year, and taking us to the playoffs and moving forward,” said Rask. “But every year is a new year where you’ve got to work hard, and set your goals to be at your best. More often than not you hope [being at your best] is going to happen, and I hope this year is going to be a great year for us.”

Clearly Rask wasn’t alone in his struggles last season behind a mistake-prone defense that allowed plenty of Grade chances, and that could be a repeating phenomenon again this season for the Bruins unless the defense is substantially upgraded along the way.

As far as the other three B’s players still taking part in the World Cup, it could be a while for Patrice and Brad Marchand as Team Canada has advanced to the final best-of-three series that could also feature Zdeno Chara if Team Europe is victorious.