Sparks sign All-Star Candace Parker to extension

All-Star Candace Parker plans to stay with the new-look Los Angeles Sparks.

The WNBA team announced Wednesday it signed a multiyear contract extension with the versatile forward, who has been bothered by injuries in her professional career.

Parker averaged 18.5 points and 8.6 rebounds in 17 games last season with L.A. before missing 15 games because of a right knee injury.

"Candace is one of those players in the league that you want to build your team with," Sparks general manager Penny Toler said. "Candace is healthy and will be a critical piece for our championship run this season. We have a loaded team and we expect to win now."

Parker will play for new coach Carol Ross this season. The team recently chose Stanford star Nneka Ogwumike with the No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft.

In 2010, Parker's season was cut short after 10 games because of a dislocated left shoulder. In 2009, she missed the season's first nine games after the birth of her daughter. Parker became the first player to earn the 2008 MVP and rookie of the year honors in the same season, and she won a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics.

"The Sparks have always been committed to success and making the right moves to build upon their rich tradition in the WNBA," said Parker, who is currently playing in Russia. "I know Penny Toler and Coach Ross have worked hard to put together a strong team this year, and I am ready to start the season with my teammates. I know our fans will be ready for a big year from us."

The Sparks and Parker, who will be part of the U.S. women's team at the London Olympics, open their season May 18 at Seattle.