Kevin Durant to miss at least 4 weeks with knee injury
The Warriors title run has been thrown a bit of a curve, as star forward Kevin Durant's knee injury will cause him to miss a significant portion of the season, forcing Golden State to regroup on the fly.
Durant, who left the Warriors' game in Washington with 10:27 remaining in the first quarter, underwent an MRI at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in the DC area.
Following reviews of the MRI by the Warriors’ medical staff, it was determined that Durant suffered a Grade 2 Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) sprain and a tibial bone bruise. He will be out of action indefinitely and will be re-evaluated in four (4) weeks. There is no timetable for his return, but it has not been ruled out that he could play again before the end of the regular season.
Fortunately for Golden State, the injury does not appear season-ending, but making significant adjustments to their rotation this late in the season is not what the Warriors were hoping for as the playoffs approached.
Help is on the way however, as the Warriors already have found a temporary veteran fill-in . . .
Warriors sign Matt Barnes
The Golden State Warriors have signed forward Matt Barnes to a contract, the team announced. Barnes, a feisty defender who can hit threes, is expected to handle some of Kevin Durant's minutes while the star forward recovers from a knee injury.
Barnes, 36, appeared in 54 games (13 starts) with the Sacramento Kings this season, tallying 7.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 25.3 minutes per game.
Barnes owns career averages of 8.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 23.7 minutes in 909 career games (354 starts) over 14 NBA seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers, Sacramento Kings, New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers, Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns, Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies.
The 6’7” forward will make his second stint with the Warriors after spending the 2006-07 and 2007-08 campaigns with Golden State, where he helped the Warriors upset the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks in the 2007 playoffs and posted averages of 11.1 points and 5.7 rebounds while hitting 42.2 percent (19-of-45) from three-point range in 11 games (three starts) that postseason.
Barnes has appeared in the playoffs in each of the last seven seasons and owns career marks of 7.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.00 steals in 25.1 minutes over 83 postseason games (48 starts).
Cavs sign veteran Deron Williams
Ask and ye shall receive.
LeBron James asked the Cleveland Cavaliers management for another playmaker, and without having to deal away any assets, a veteran point guard has fallen into their lap, as the team announced that it has signed guard Deron Williams.
Williams (6-3, 200), who was waived by Dallas on February 23, averaged 13.1 points, 6.9 assists and 2.6 rebounds in 29.3 minutes through 40 games (all starts) with the Mavericks this season. He also shot .348 from the three-point line and .821 from the foul line, while scoring in double figures on 27 occasions and dishing out 10 or more assists five times.
He should earn immediate minutes in the Cavaliers rotation as a backup guard.
Playing in his 12th NBA season, Williams owns career averages of 16.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, 8.2 assists and 1.1 steals in 34.6 minutes over 821 games (767 starts) for Utah, New Jersey/Brooklyn and Dallas. Overall, he has shot .444 from the field, .356 from three-point range and .822 from the free throw line. The 6-3 guard has dished out at least 20 assists in a game on six occasions throughout his career and ranks 19th on the NBA’s all-time assists list (6,733).
A three-time NBA All-Star (2010, 2011 and 2012), Williams has also made the All-NBA Second Team twice (2008 and 2010) and won gold medals as part of Team USA at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Wizards sign point guard Brandon Jennings
Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced that the team has signed veteran point guard Brandon Jennings. In addition, the team waived forward Danuel House.
Jennings, a capable scorer whose career has been affected by injuries, was recently let go by the Knicks.
“Brandon gives us playmaking ability and experience at the guard position while adding another scoring option as well,” said Grunfeld. “His presence, along with the recent acquisition of Bojan Bogdanovic and the continued progression of Ian Mahinmi, will help our team as we continue our push towards the playoffs.”
In 58 games (11 starts) for the New York Knicks this season, Jennings averaged 8.6 points, 4.9 assists and 2.6 rebounds in 25 minutes per game.
Jennings (6-1, 170) has played seven-plus seasons with Milwaukee, Detroit, Orlando and New York. In 518 career regular season games, he has averaged 14.8 points, 5.8 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 31.4 minutes per game. He has shot .349 from three-point range for his career, has ranked in the top 20 in the NBA in assists per game four times (including sixth in 2013-14 and averaged 16.7 points and 3.7 assists in 11 playoff games (11 starts) for the Bucks in 2010 and 2013 (including 18.7 points in seven games in 2010).
The former 2009 10th overall draft pick enjoyed his best season in 2011-12 for the Milwaukee Bucks when he averaged a career-high 19.1 points, 5.5 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.6 steals, while shooting a career-high .418 from the field. He was named to the 2009-10 NBA All-Rookie Team after averaging 15.5 points and 5.7 assists while playing all 82 games.
House, who was signed as a free agent during the offseason, appeared in one game for the Wizards this season. He missed 39 games with a fractured right wrist and 10 games on assignment to the D-League.
Spoelstra, Popovich named NBA Coaches of the Month
The Miami Heat’s Erik Spoelstra and the San Antonio Spurs’ Gregg Popovich were named the NBA Eastern and Western Conference Coaches of the Month, respectively, for games played in February.
Spoelstra led the Heat to an 8-3 record, the second-best mark in the Eastern Conference, as Miami played only four games at home (3-1) and seven on the road (5-2). Miami won its first five games in February to extend its winning streak to 13, the longest in the NBA this season and the third-longest in franchise history.
The Heat also won three of its final four games of the month, with each victory coming against a team currently in position to make the playoffs (Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks and Indiana Pacers). For the month, Miami ranked third in the East in scoring (110.3 ppg) and second in points allowed (101.6 ppg).
Popovich guided the Spurs to a Western Conference-best 8-2 record in February, going 6-2 on the road and 2-0 at home. San Antonio closed the month with four consecutive victories, all on the road.
When the Spurs defeated the Denver Nuggets 121-97 on Feb. 4, Popovich recorded his 1,128th victory as San Antonio head coach and passed former Utah Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan for the most wins with one franchise in NBA history. With a 110-106 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Feb. 13, the Spurs set an NBA record by clinching their 20th straight winning season.
Other nominees for the NBA Eastern and Western Conference Coaches of the Month were Boston’s Brad Stevens, Cleveland’s Tyronn Lue, Detroit’s Stan Van Gundy, Golden State’s Steve Kerr, Houston’s Mike D’Antoni, Memphis’ David Fizdale, Oklahoma City’s Billy Donovan, Utah’s Quin Snyder, and Washington’s Scott Brooks.
Dirk closes in on 30,000
Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki began the week on the verge of a major milestone.
The 13-time NBA All-Star from Germany needs only 48 points to reach 30,000 for his career, a mark achieved by only the five players ahead of him on the league’s all-time scoring list: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain.
Nowitzki, the NBA’s active scoring leader and the highest-scoring player born outside the United States, is set to join Malone and Bryant as the only players to score 30,000 points with one franchise. The 38-year-old Nowitzki has spent his entire 19-year career with the Mavericks; the only player in NBA history with a longer tenure with one team is Bryant, who played 20 seasons with the Lakers.
Dallas plays six of its next seven games at home, beginning tonight against Miami at American Airlines Center. Nowitzki is averaging 18.1 points over his last seven games, putting his season average at 13.8 points.
Triple Double History
With about five weeks left in the regular season, the NBA has already matched the league record for triple-doubles in a season.
The NBA reached 78 triple-doubles for the 2016-17 season after Cleveland’s LeBron James and Denver’s Nikola Jokic posted triple-doubles on Wednesday. James recorded his seventh triple-double of the season, which ranks third in the league. Jokic’s second straight triple-double raised his season total to four, the most by a Nuggets player since Fat Lever had five in 1989-90.
At 78 triple-doubles, the NBA has equaled the record set in 1988-89, when Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan led the league with 17 and 15 triple-doubles, respectively. Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook (30) and Houston’s James Harden (15) have combined for 45 triple-doubles to set the pace this season.
With his next triple-double of 2016-17, Westbrook will tie Wilt Chamberlain (31 in 1967-68) for the second-most by a player in a season. Oscar Robertson holds the record of 41 in 1961-62.
Dario Saric, 76ers: The Croatian forward has recorded four consecutive double-doubles, the longest streak by a rookie this season. In his last seven games, Saric is averaging 20.3 points and 9.0 rebounds.
Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves: Wiggins has scored 20 or more points in a franchise-record 17 consecutive games, while Towns has done so in each of the last 14 games. Those are the second- and third-longest active streaks in the NBA, respectively, behind Boston guard Isaiah Thomas’ 43 games in a row with at least 20 points.
Miami Heat: Miami has made 43 three-pointers during its current three-game winning streak, the most over any three-game span in team history. The Heat has also scored at least 100 points in 16 straight games, the franchise’s longest streak ever.
Mike Conley, Grizzlies: He scored 31 points in Sunday’s win over Denver, his sixth 30-point game of the season. Conley had five 30-point games in his first nine seasons combined.
Kawhi Leonard, Spurs: With 25 points in Sunday’s victory against the Lakers, Leonard posted his 27th game with at least that many points this season. He had 26 such games in his first five seasons combined.
DeMar DeRozan, Raptors: In two games since the All-Star break (both wins), Toronto’s all-time leading scorer has totaled 76 points, shot 54.5 percent from the field and made 27-of-28 from the free throw line.
Free throw shooting: The leaguewide 2016-17 free throw percentage is 77.2, which would be an NBA record for an entire season. The current full-season record of 77.1 percent was set in 1973-74.
Seth Curry, Mavericks: The starting guard is averaging 23.5 points and shooting 61.5 percent from three-point range in four games since the All-Star break, highlighted by a career-high 31-point performance against Minnesota on Feb. 24.
Houston Rockets: They have scored at least 100 points in 48 consecutive games, breaking the franchise record of 47 set by the 1969-70 San Diego Rockets.
James Johnson, Heat: The 30-year-old forward (12.1 ppg) has scored in double figures in 37 of 56 games this season. Last season with the Raptors, Johnson reached double figures seven times in 57 games and averaged 5.0 points.
Frank Kaminsky, Hornets: The second-year center averaged 18.1 points and 7.1 rebounds in February. He recorded five of his nine 20-point games this season during the month.
Tim Hardaway Jr., Hawks: The 24-year-old guard has scored in double figures in 15 straight games, the longest streak of his four-year career. He has more than doubled his scoring average from last season (13.0 ppg from 6.4 ppg).
Cavs sign Bogut
The Cleveland Cavaliers made another shrewd veteran pickup, signing center Andrew Bogut.
Bogut a physical defender with playoff experience, adds size to the Cavs roster and prevents the rival Warriors from acquiring a player who could immediately fit right into their system.
Bogut (7-0, 260), was waived by Philadelphia on Monday after being traded to the 76ers by Dallas on February 23.
Playing in his 12th NBA season, Bogut owns career averages of 10.0 points on .534 shooting from the field, 8.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.6 blocks in 29.1 minutes over 670 games (651 starts) for Milwaukee, Golden State and Dallas. He is one of nine active players with at least 1,000 career blocks (1,070).
A 2015 NBA champion, Bogut has also appeared in 58 playoff games (57 starts) and holds postseason averages of 5.5 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 22.5 minutes. He averaged 3.0 points and 8.3 rebounds in 22.4 minutes through 26 games (21 starts) with the Mavericks this season and pulled down double digits in rebounds on 10 occasions.
The 7-0 center was originally selected by the Bucks with the first overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft and was an All-Rookie First Team selection in 2006. He was named to the All-NBA Third Team in 2010 and All-Defensive Second Team in 2015. Bogut has represented the Australian national team at three Olympic Games (2004, 2008 and 2016).
Festus Ezeli, Trail Blazers center: “I love that basketball is going all over the world, especially to Africa. For an immigrant from Nigeria, the game of basketball changed my life. It gave me a footprint in the American community. … The game has opened many doors for me throughout my life. I want kids to know it’s beyond the actual physical game. I want them to see how much opportunity it has provided my family and I, while knowing it can be them, too. And when they get there, I pray they understand how vital it is to keep spreading the same message.”
Steve Kerr, Warriors coach: “It’s one of my favorite parts of coaching honestly, is seeing how a team comes together, seeing the relationships develop, seeing guys laughing together, seeing who hangs out with who. It’s great. This team has a really, really good chemistry that developed really quickly.”
Doug McDermott, newly acquired Thunder forward: “I’m glad I’m on [Russell Westbrook’s] side. He makes some crazy plays. Me and Taj [Gibson] were sitting on the bench kind of in awe a few plays. I’m sure it’s just normal for you guys. Taj saw a little bit of it when he played with D-Rose [Derrick Rose] in Chicago. It’s fun to be part of.”
Jeff Zillgitt, USA Today: “[Washington’s Otto Porter Jr.] is one of the breakout players in the NBA this season, and a significant reason why the Wizards have the best winning percentage in the Eastern Conference since Dec. 1 and why the offense is more dynamic than it was a year ago.”
Jackie Bamberger, Yahoo! Sports: “Across the NBA, athletes have different talents that drive and complement their skills on the court. For Los Angeles Lakers rookie Brandon Ingram, the passion that has helped him take on his first grueling season in the league is art.”
Kurt Kragthorpe, Salt Lake Tribune: “Stockton Malone Shorts’ name once made him a novelty. Two years later, his game is making him a star in Utah high school basketball.”
DeMarcus Cousins fined
New Orleans Pelicans forward/center DeMarcus Cousins has been suspended one game without pay for receiving his 18th technical foul of the 2016-17 season, it was announced by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.
Cousins received his most recent technical foul with 11:28 remaining in the first quarter of the Pelicans’ 118-110 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Feb. 26. Cousins will serve his suspension on March 1 when the Pelicans host the Detroit Pistons at Smoothie King Center.
Under NBA rules, a player or coach is automatically suspended without pay for one game once he receives his 16th technical foul during a regular season. For every two additional technical fouls received during that regular season, the player or coach will be automatically suspended for an additional game.
Wizards' Markieff Morris fined
Washington Wizards forward Markieff Morris has been fined $25,000 for throwing the ball at a game official and into the spectator stands, it was announced by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.
The incident, for which Morris was assessed a technical foul and ejected, occurred directly after Morris had fouled out with 7:31 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Wizards’ 102-92 loss to the Utah Jazz on Feb. 26 at the Verizon Center.
Rudy Gobert fined
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert has been fined $25,000 for making physical contact with a game official, it was announced by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.
The incident occurred with 5:19 remaining in the third quarter of the Jazz’s 109-95 win over the Bucks on Feb. 24 at BMO Harris Bradley Center.
Warriors clinch playoff berth
No surprise, but the Golden State Warriors have clinched a berth in the 2017 NBA Playoffs by virtue of their recent 112-95 victory over the Brooklyn Nets at Oracle Arena, becoming the first team to secure a playoff spot this season.
Golden State, which owns an NBA-best 49-9 (.845) mark on the season, has earned a playoff appearance in the month of February for the second consecutive season. The 2017 NBA Playoffs are scheduled to begin on April 15.
The Warriors, who are slated to make their fifth-straight playoff appearance for the first time since qualifying for the postseason in each of the first six years of the league’s existence (1946-47 to 1951-52), won the 2015 NBA Championship and earned two Western Conference Championships since their return to the playoffs in 2013. Golden State owns a 40-24 (.625) postseason record in that span.
LeBron James and Russell Westbrook named Players of the Month
The Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James and the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook were named the NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Month, respectively, for games played in February.
The Cavaliers were 9-1 with James in the lineup in February (9-2 overall) as the 32-year-old forward averaged 25.9 points (third in the East), 10.6 assists (second in the East) and 7.2 rebounds. He shot 63.7 percent from the field (second in the conference) and 56.8 percent from three-point range (fourth in the conference), his highest percentages for any month this season.
James scored at least 20 points in eight of his 10 games and dished out 10 or more assists six times on his way to averaging the most assists for any month in his 14-year career. During a 111-104 victory against the New York Knicks on Feb. 4, James became the youngest player in NBA history to reach 28,000 points.
Westbrook averaged a triple-double of 33.4 points (first in the NBA), 11.0 rebounds (tied for fifth in the West) and 10.0 assists (fifth in the NBA) as the Thunder went 7-4 for the month, including wins over the Cavaliers, Memphis Grizzlies and Utah Jazz. The 28-year-old guard posted six triple-doubles to improve his league-leading total to 30. Oscar Robertson (41 in 1961-62) and Wilt Chamberlain (31 in 1967-68) are the only players to record more triple-doubles in a season than Westbrook, who leads all active players with 67 for his career.
In a 110-93 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 24, Westbrook became the third player in the last 40 years to tally at least 17 points, 17 rebounds and 17 assists in a game, joining Magic Johnson (1989) and Rajon Rondo (2012).
Other nominees for the Kia NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Month were Boston’s Isaiah Thomas, Golden State’s Klay Thompson, Houston’s James Harden, the LA Clippers’ Blake Griffin, Miami’s Goran Dragic, Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns, Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan, Utah’s Gordon Hayward and Washington’s John Wall.
Dario Saric and Yogi Ferrell named Rookies of the Month
The Philadelphia 76ers’ Dario Saric and the Dallas Mavericks’ Yogi Ferrell were named the NBA Eastern and Western Conference Rookies of the Month, respectively, for games played in February.
Saric, the 12th pick in NBA Draft 2014 presented by State Farm, led all rookies in scoring (17.0 ppg) and ranked second in rebounding (7.9 rpg) for the month. Among Eastern Conference rookies, he was first in minutes (30.1 mpg), tied for second in steals (1.0 spg) and third in assists (2.8 apg). The 22-year-old forward from Croatia scored in double figures in 11 of 12 games during February, including five appearances with at least 20 points.
Saric recorded four straight point-rebound double-doubles from Feb. 13-25, capped by a 19-point, 15-rebound, five-assist performance in a 110-109 loss to the New York Knicks on Feb. 25.
Ferrell, who was not selected in NBA Draft 2016 presented by State Farm, paced all Western Conference rookies in scoring (12.0 ppg), assists (4.7 apg) and minutes (31.5 mpg) in February. He led all rookies in three-pointers made (21). The 23-year-old guard was playing on a 10-day contract when he equaled an NBA rookie record with nine three-pointers on his way to scoring 32 points in Dallas’ 108-104 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Feb. 3. Four days later, the Mavericks signed him to a multiyear contract.
Before joining Dallas, Ferrell played 10 games with the Brooklyn Nets and 18 games with the NBA Development League’s Long Island Nets.
Other nominees for the NBA Eastern and Western Conference Rookies of the Month were Boston’s Jaylen Brown, Denver’s Jamal Murray, the Los Angeles Lakers’ Brandon Ingram, Miami’s Rodney McGruder, Milwaukee’s Malcolm Brogdon, New York’s Willy Hernangomez and Phoenix’s Marquese Chriss.
Lakers cut Jose Calderon
In another move to cut dead weight and get younger, the Los Angeles Lakers have waived guard José Calderón, it was announced by President of Basketball Operations Earvin “Magic” Johnson.
Calderón (6-3, 200) appeared in 24 games (11 starts) for the Lakers this season, averaging 3.3 points, 2.1 assists and 1.7 rebounds in 12.2 minutes per game.
The Lakers roster now stands at 14.
Calderón (6-3, 200) appeared in 24 games (11 starts) for the Lakers this season, averaging 3.3 points, 2.1 assists and 1.7 rebounds in 12.2 minutes per game.
The Lakers roster now stands at 14.
NBA looks to improve officiating
The NBA announced a comprehensive plan to further strengthen its officiating program. The introduction of several new initiatives continues recent efforts to bring additional transparency to the program and use advanced technologies to enhance the performance, training, development and recruitment of referees.
The announcement follows a thorough six-month review of the NBA’s officiating program conducted by recently-appointed President, League Operations, Byron Spruell, who oversees Basketball and Referee Operations at the league office.
“Our focus with these new initiatives is to build on the already-existing strengths of our officiating program and ensure maximum effectiveness of our officials,” said Spruell. “With an eye toward continuous improvement, these measures will put our officials in an even better position to succeed in this demanding role and reinforce the NBA’s commitment to transparency.”
The NBA is launching an Officiating Advisory Council to focus on areas of improvement for the officiating program and the future of officiating. The council will include retired General Martin E. Dempsey, who was the 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; former U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan; two distinguished former NBA players and current television analysts, Doug Collins and Kenny Smith; and former longtime NBA referee Steve Javie. The Council will also include current players, coaches and referees who will be named at a later date.
The NBA is also announcing the following steps:
· Increase the officiating staff by 25 percent within three years, including 10 percent by next season, through a more diverse and comprehensive approach to sourcing and hiring.
· Use a new, data-driven game review system to create objective referee measurement standards and track progress regarding call accuracy and errors per game over multiple seasons.
· Leverage technology to develop innovative methods to train officials, including the use of virtual reality.
· Improve and expand the process by which teams inquire about specific plays or offer input on the officiating program.
· Install a newly-created postgame survey process for coaches to share officiating feedback in real time.
· Develop guidelines and establish forums to improve decorum and in-game communications among players, coaches and referees.
· Introduce a new scheduling system to optimize the chemistry and composition of officiating crews and ensure rest for individual referees.
Rio Grande Valley Vipers guard Darius Morris was named the NBA Development League Player of the Month for games played in February.
Morris (6-4, Michigan) led Rio Grande Valley to a 6-2 record behind averages of 21.9 points, 7.5 assists, 5.1 rebounds and 1.8 steals. He shot 46.6 percent from the field and scored over 25 points in four games in February. On Feb. 10, he recorded a triple-double with 19 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds in a 116-112 victory over the Sioux Falls Skyforce. On Feb. 14, he hit a season-high six three pointers on his way to 26 points and added 14 assists and six rebounds in a 141-133 win over the Texas Legends.
Morris is averaging 20.3 points, 6.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals this season. He was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers with the 41st overall pick in NBA Draft 2011 presented by State Farm. He last appeared in the NBA with the Brooklyn Nets during the 2014-15 season.
Other players who received consideration for the monthly award were Delaware’s James Webb III, Grand Rapids’ Kevin Murphy, Los Angeles’ David Nwaba (called up by the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 28), Northern Arizona’s Elijah Millsap, Raptors 905’s Brady Heslip and Texas’ Jameel Warney.
In other D-League news, Rio Grande Valley Vipers head coach Matt Brase was named the NBA Development League Coach of the Month for games played in February.
Brase guided Rio Grande Valley to a 6-2 record for the month, with four wins coming on the road. Under Brase, the team scored a league-best 120.6 points per game and boasted the second-highest net rating with 7.1 in February.
Brase is in his second season as head coach after leading the Vipers to a 29-21 record and a playoff appearance in 2015-16. Brase previously served as an assistant coach for the Vipers during the 2012-13 season and rejoined Rio Grande Valley after two seasons as Director of Player Development for the Houston Rockets.
Other coaches who received consideration for the monthly award were Northern Arizona’s Ty Ellis, Raptors 905’s Jerry Stackhouse and Texas’ Bob MacKinnon.
By Staff of TheDailySportsHerald.com and news services