A brand new contract for this NBA coach

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A brand new contract for this NBA coach

From Comcast SportsNet
DALLAS (AP) -- The coach who led the Dallas Mavericks to their only NBA championship is staying put. Rick Carlisle has signed a new contract with the Mavericks, a year after winning the title. While terms of the deal weren't released, owner Mark Cuban indicated in a statement Tuesday that it was for at least as long as the coach's initial four-year contract. "We are excited that Rick will be back with the Mavericks for at least the next four years," Cuban said. "He is a proven winner, a great teacher and a coach that will help the Mavericks improve as a team and as an organization." Carlisle just completed the final season of the four-year contract he got when he replaced Avery Johnson in 2008. Dallas made it to the playoffs for the 12th consecutive season, but was swept in the first round by Oklahoma City. Carlisle has a 198-114 regular season record in Dallas, and is 479-325 overall (.596 winning percentage) as a head coach. Before joining the Mavericks, Carlisle led Detroit and Indiana to the Eastern Conference finals. Cuban and Carlisle both repeatedly refused over the last several weeks of the season to discuss the coach's future. "These things, they take time and it's a very big commitment both ways and we had a lot of great conversations during the season and after the season," Carlisle said during an interview on ESPN Radio in Dallas, the team's flagship station. "I'm very happy to have the opportunity to return." Carlisle wouldn't elaborate on any details of his new contract during the extended interview. On the day after the season-ending Game 4 loss to the Thunder earlier this month, Carlisle would only say that Dallas "has been a great opportunity for me and my family and we love it here." When he attended a Texas Rangers game Sunday, he smiled without saying anything when asked about a new contract. Now that Carlisle is set to return, the Mavericks have plenty of decisions to make about players to surround 11-time All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki, who will be 34 next season. "It's a lot of work going forward because there's going to be a lot of big decisions that have to be made," Carlisle said during his radio interview. "We've got younger guys, we've got to continue to get better and there are some unknowns which to me make it exciting, and I want to be here. So I'm glad it worked out." Jason Kidd, their 39-year-old point guard whose 1,315 career regular-season games are more than any other active player, and guards Jason Terry and Delonte West are among six Dallas players who can become free agents. The Mavs have team options on four other players, including Vince Carter and Brandan Wright. The NBA lockout last summer led to a new collective bargaining agreement with different rules that affected how Cuban put together the team. In the process, some big pieces were let go and Dallas became the league's oldest team for a condensed and shortened season. After its championship, Dallas didn't keep center Tyson Chandler, DeShawn Stevenson, J.J. Barea or Caron Butler. Chandler went to the New York Knicks and was the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year. The roster could drastically change for the second offseason in a row, though Carlisle can't and didn't specifically talk Tuesday about any potential free-agent targets. "We have a destination that is going to be a desirable destination for players and we've got a great fan base. We still have one of the greatest players in the game and one of the greatest players ever to play the game in Dirk," Carlisle said. "We're going to have a busy summer, we're looking forward to it. And we're going to be very resourceful and opportunistic."

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Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks host Lightning tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks host Lightning tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Grab the first goal.

The Blackhawks have scored the game's first goal in seven of the last eight games, and of those seven, they've won six of them. Meanwhile, the Lightning have scored the first goal only 17 times in 48 games this season, and are 12-5-1 in those games. They're 9-17-4 when they allow the first goal, so getting out to a lead first will be important against a struggling Lightning team looking for signs of life.

2. Will the floodgates open for Jonathan Toews?

After a four-point game in a 4-2 win over Vancouver, the Blackhawks captain matched his point total over his previous nine games. He's up to 26 points on the season, which is now fifth among Chicago forwards. When Toews has offensive droughts, they usually last longer than they should. But when he gets hot, he gets extremely hot. Perhaps we'll see the floodgates open offensively.

3. A chance for the team lead in scoring.

With an empty-net goal on Sunday, Marian Hossa tied Artem Anisimov for the team-lead with 18 goals. Artemi Panarin is right behind with 17, and Patrick Kane isn't far either at 15. The Blackhawks had four 20-goal scorers last season, and haven't had more than that since the 2013-14 season. They're definitely on pace to hit four, but could they surprass that? Richard Panik, who scored another goal Sunday as well, is fifth with 11 goals while Ryan Hartman has 10. Toews is at eight, but a flurry after a drought could make things interesting.

4. The triplets reunited?

In an effort to jumpstart a struggling offense, Lightning coach Jon Cooper reunited the triplets line of Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat that was so successful during their 2015 playoff run in their latest game, a 5-3 loss to Arizona. It's unclear whether they will begin tonight's game on the same line, but if not, it's worth watching throughout the game whether they do. The Blackhawks have been coming at opponents in waves lately, so Cooper could look to separate the three to distribute the scoring.

5. Take advantage on special teams.

The Lightning have racked up the fifth-most penalty minutes in the league, and own a bottom-10 penalty kill unit at 80.1 percent. The Blackhawks are the second-least penalized team, and have converted on 17.9 percent of their power plays, which sits at 16th. But they haven't scored one on the man advantage in five straight games, going 0-for-9 during that span. Here's a chance to change that.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

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