PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Without playing a game, the 76ers will still spend this summer in the cellar.
No, not because of their offseason.
No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons has created a stir in Philly that has the Sixers stealing lazy summer headlines for the first time in years. Dario Saric’s arrival from a Turkish league after two years overseas was greeted with cameras and fans mobbing him at the airport. And Joel Embiid? Well, the oft-injured big man appears finally healthy after sitting out the last two years with foot injuries.
For the first time in years, the Sixers seem poised to move up and ahead in the standings instead of shedding talent and salary with the sole intention of landing at the bottom.
The only kind of tanking this summer will come in the form of the stainless steel fermentation tanks needed by Chaddsford Winery to produce a dry red in honor of the 1982-83 Sixers as part of its championship banner series. The image of the championship banner that hangs in the Wells Fargo Center is on the label and the wine launched Tuesday has notes of raspberry, black cherry, black pepper and oak.
The Sixers hope they’ve found the right blend on the roster.
Landing Saric was a start.
The Sixers signed the 6-foot-10, 243-pound power forward last week more than two years after they acquired his rights on a draft-night deal. Saric was originally drafted by the Orlando Magic with the 12th overall pick of the 2014 NBA draft and he was quickly traded to the Sixers for Elfrid Payton.
Because of overseas contractual obligations, Saric played the last two seasons with the Turkish team Anadolu Efes. He was MVP of the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament. He averaged 14 points, 10 rebounds and two assists for his native Croatia.
After years of fans following Saric on video highlights and coach Brett Brown limited to smartphone conversations with his prized prospect, Saric officially turned from man of mystery to man of the hour when his plane landed in Philly.
“I didn’t know that we had people who would say welcome to me like that, in that way. I’m very happy because of that,” he said. “I’m happy, because the city’s happy, because I’m here.”
Saric and Embiid, a fellow 2014 draft pick, have yet to play for the Sixers. Embiid should make his debut after missing the past two seasons with foot injuries. They join a roster that includes fellow lottery picks Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor and, of course, Simmons.
Okafor, the No. 3 pick of the 2015 draft, has been cleared to play following right knee surgery that sidelined for the final month of the season. The Sixers said on Monday that Okafor, who had been cleared to resume on-court basketball activity, will limit his participation with the USA Men’s Select Team to non-contact activity and drills while training with the USA Basketball Men’s National Team this week in Las Vegas.
“Jahlil has been in the gym working hard and has made great strides in his recovery and return to action, but he’s simply not in the kind of basketball condition required to compete at this level of competition,” Sixers President Bryan Colangelo said. “Our sports science and medical team feels that holding him out of scrimmage situations is in everyone’s best interest at this point of the summer.”
Sit and wait.
It’s become a bit of a theme in Philly the last few seasons, ending with last season’s 10-72 mark that earned them the No. 1 pick. Noel missed a year. Embiid and Saric, two. Okafor’s promising rookie season was limited to 53 games.
Once they’re back, it’s up to Colangelo and Brown to decide how to make them fit. Colangelo has said he’s not comfortable with trying to fit centers Okafor, Noel and Embiid on the roster. One of them — surely Okafor or Noel — will have to go, before this season or next.
Simmons could fill in at point guard where the Sixers have a glaring need. Simmons showed off the versatility in the NBA Summer League that made him the No. 1 pick. The freshman from LSU played in four games for the Philadelphia 76ers in Las Vegas, averaging 12.3 points, 7.8 rebounds and 5.5 assists.
The 22-year-old Saric seemed open to any position.
“If you have five players who can run, feel each other on the court, I think it doesn’t matter which position we play,” he said. “How we play, how we help each other during a game, I think we’ll make good things, not just me and Ben, but the whole team.”
Much like the wine, the Sixers can only hope their players get better with age — and maybe eventually cause them to sip the good stuff for the team’s first championship parade in nearly 35 years.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — After years of spectacular success, Netflix is starting to hit some potholes. The high-flying internet video service added only 160,000 U.S. subscribers from April through June, its lowest gain in the period since splitting up its video-streaming and DVD-by-mail services five years ago.
In addition to the U.S. slowdown, Netflix is wrestling with an ambitious international expansion amid stiffening competition, challenges that came into sharper focus Monday with the release of its second-quarter earnings. CEO Reed Hastings blamed the disappointing performance on cancellations by subscribers facing price increases of as much as $2 per month, following the expiration of a two-year rate freeze.
“People don’t like price increases, we know that,” Hastings said during a webcast reviewing the second quarter. “It is a necessary phase we must get through.”
HIGHER PRICES, MORE COMPETITION
Analysts estimate that more than 20 million subscribers may be hit with a price increase between June and the end of this year. Netflix hasn’t quantified how many people will be affected, but cited the price increases as one reason it predicts it will add just 300,000 U.S. subscribers in the third quarter — down from a gain of 880,000 at the same time last year.
The fallout from those phased-in price increases has been compounded by intensifying competition that now provide consumers an array of alternative streaming-video options.
Netflix fared better outside the U.S., but its second-quarter gain of 1.5 million international subscribers still missed management’s projections.
The company’s stock shed $13.16, or 13 percent, to $85.65 in after-hours trading. If that loss extends into Tuesday, Netflix shares will have lost about a quarter of their value so far this year. That’s a harsh comedown for a stock that’s been a Wall Street star since bottoming out at roughly $7 on a split-adjusted basis about four years ago.
A VICTIM OF SUCCESS
In a way, Netflix is a victim of its own success. With 47.1 million U.S. subscribers already signed up in the U.S., where they pay $8 to $12 per month, the company is having more trouble finding new households interested in anteing up.
Beyond the U.S., the Los Gatos, California, company is sustaining significant losses as it ramps up its business in 189 other countries. Among other things, Netflix has to amass a diverse collection of TV shows and films that will appeal to new audiences speaking a variety of different languages and with divergent tastes.
Its international operations lost $69 million in the second quarter, or an average of about $2 per overseas subscriber. By contrast, Netflix’s U.S. streaming service contributed a profit of $414 million, or about $9 per subscriber.
After factoring in its still highly profitable but steadily shrinking DVD-by-mail service and various operating expenses, Netflix earned $41 million, or 9 cents per share, in the second quarter. That nearly tripled its profit of $14 million at the same time last year.
Revenue for the period increased 28 percent from last year to $2.1 billion, driving in part by Netflix’s higher prices.
FIRST MOVER NO MORE
Until recently, Netflix had been capitalizing on its “first mover” advantage — technology parlance for innovators that embrace a new concept ahead of the pack.
Its head start in internet video meant Netflix was able to license previously released TV series and films at relatively inexpensive rates, in part because studios hadn’t yet realized how valuable streaming rights would become.
That’s all changed now. Netflix’s competitors now include internet-only offerings from Amazon.com, Hulu and Google’s YouTube as well as traditional TV networks such as Time Warner Inc.’s HBO and CBS, which have introduced online alternatives to their cable and broadcast channels.
At the same time, studios are demanding higher prices for the rights to their shows and films — and increasingly selling the rights to Netflix rivals willing to pay more.
“Media companies are thinking a lot more about what the real value of their content is and what they should be getting to license it to Netflix,” says Andre Swanston, CEO of Tru Optik, an entertainment industry consultant. “That is going to make content licensing a lot more expensive for them.”
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Coach Mike Krzyzewski got his first glimpse at the new-look U.S. national team, as the team opened camp at UNLV with just two players back from the 2012 national team that won the gold medal in London.
Carmelo Anthony returns for his fourth run at the Olympics, after winning a bronze medal in 2004 and gold medals in 2008 and 2012, while Kevin Durant is looking for a second gold medal after playing on the championship team in 2012.
And though there are 10 new faces on the team that will represent the U.S. in the Olympics, several were a part of the 2014 FIBA world championship team, and know what is expected of them. Making things easier, as it was for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the 12-man roster has been set since June, giving Krzyzewski and his staff ample time to devise rotations and focus on the players they knew were coming.
“It’s the angst you go through in that week of determining from 16 to 12, (it) takes away from your preparation,” Krzyzewski said. “We have had none of that. That’s a huge advantage, and also for these guys, you got 12 guys (who) have been completely focused on being on this team. It’s really a good advantage.”
Krzyzewski said he was pleased with Anthony taking charge the first day, being a vocal leader for what he believes could be one of the best defensive teams he’s ever coached since becoming taking over in 2005. He also credited Durant, Kyrie Irving and DeMarcus Cousins for stepping up as leaders on the opening day of camp.
“It’s a new group of guys (so) I get a chance to go out there and kind of be a leader to the team and kind of enjoy it,” Anthony said. “For me, it’s about going over there and having fun, getting that feeling back, getting that fun feeling back and try to get a gold medal.”
As he’s done in year’s past, Krzyzewski met with the team and staff privately Sunday night, showing players video clips from previous years and delivering a motivational speech about what it means to represent the United States. With the recent unrest involving civilians and police officers, the message came across even stronger for this team.
“Whenever you get a chance to sit in that meeting and see and understand what we’re doing is bigger than us, as basketball players, it gives you chills and puts everything in perspective,” DeMar DeRozan said. “It makes your job easier to go out there and do what you love to do and represent your country.”
And as the national team takes on its new look, ushering in a new era, the 69-year-old Krzyzewski is making his final run with the Olympic team. Under his watch, Krzyzewski has led the U.S. to two gold medals at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics as well as the 2007 FIBA Americas Tournament and the 2010 and 2014 world championships.
Nonetheless, Krzyzewski said the most important thing is to avoid focusing on the milestones he, Anthony and Durant are headed toward, and aim toward maintaining a united front with the entire squad.
“All of us need to be in this moment, not in ‘this is my last time’ or ‘it’s the third gold medal for Carmelo,'” said Krzyzewski, who has led the Americans to a near-perfect 52-1 since 2005. “It’s ‘this team,’ and that’s what we’re trying to do, just be in this moment with this team. It’s one of the biggest mistakes any competitor can make, is to be in only your moment. They’re not going to play because it’s my last time being the Olympic coach. So I have to coach them like it’s my first time, and that’s how we’re going to do it.
“We just want to play as well as we can, and be worthy of winning the gold, so they’ll be worthy of continuing to win the respect of our country and the world.”
CLEVELAND (AP) — A video posted online shows “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert taking over the microphone on stage in Cleveland in a “Hunger Games” themed prank at the site of the Republican National Convention, which begins Monday.
The video shows Colbert behind the podium saying it’s his honor “to hereby launch and begin the 2016 Republican hungry for power games” and banging a gavel. A man who appears to be security then confronts Colbert, who says “I know I’m not supposed to be up here, but let’s be honest, neither is Donald Trump” before being led off stage.
Colbert dressed like “Hunger Games” emcee Caesar Flickerman for the spoof, complete with a blue wig. He’s worn the same getup on his show in a recurring bit about the presidential campaign.
HEBRON, West Bank (AP) — Notebook in hand, acclaimed Irish author Colm Toibin walks into Hebron to observe Israeli military rule in its rawest form.
In the heart of the West Bank’s largest Palestinian city, several hundred combat troops guard an equal number of militant Jewish settlers, enforcing a separation system that lets settlers move freely at the expense of Palestinians and has turned a once vibrant market into a ghost district.
Moments after Toibin reaches a small plaza in downtown Hebron, the quiet of largely deserted streets gives way to violence.
Two Israelis sitting at a cafe table spot Toibin’s escort, Israeli peace activist Yehuda Shaul, and begin cursing him. Shaul turns and stares at the pair, but says nothing. The two jump up and walk toward him. Suddenly, one of them attacks a videographer in Toibin’s group who was filming the scene, breaking the camera with a kick. Israeli troops who witness the assault refuse to detain the attackers, who eventually slip away.
Toibin, 61, stands back and takes notes on what Shaul later describes as routine settler lawlessness in Hebron.
The troubled city is the last stop on Toibin’s weeklong visit to Israel and the West Bank. He’s collecting material for an essay, his contribution to an anthology on Israeli occupation that will be published at the 50-year mark in June 2017. The book will include essays from 20 international writers, including Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners, and six local authors.
Each tackles a different subject, from Israel’s military court system to grieving Jewish and Arab families who lost loved ones to violence. The work is based on observations during tours similar to Toibin’s.
Toibin, who last visited in 1992, said he was struck most by the elaborate system of Israeli control over Palestinians, including roadblocks and fences, and the energy spent on maintaining it.
“All of us have been surprised by the amount of architecture and engineering required to make sure one side is locked in and the other side is free to move,” said Toibin, who has won several literary awards and whose novel “Brooklyn” about an Irish immigrant was adapted into a movie last year.
The anthology is meant to introduce a wider audience to this reality through the power of story-telling, said those involved in the project.
“I want to get to people who would normally avoid at all costs thinking about this issue because it makes them uncomfortable,” said Israeli-American writer Ayelet Waldman, one of the book’s editors.
Toibin’s millions of readers, for example, might not be interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, “but they might read an essay by a writer like Colm Toibin and then they might think of the place in a new way,” the U.S.-based Waldman said in a phone interview.
The occupation began with Israel’s swift capture of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war — lands the U.N. General Assembly recognizes as making up a state of Palestine, though Israel says future borders must be negotiated.
Over the past five decades, Israel, citing security needs, established a military bureaucracy that enforces movement restrictions on Palestinians through a complex permit system. Successive governments have moved nearly 600,000 Israelis, or 10 percent of the country’s Jewish population, to settlements on occupied land, a multi-billion-dollar enterprise the international community overwhelmingly considers illegitimate.
Israel has also fragmented the territory of what is meant to be Palestine.
Israel annexed east Jerusalem in 1967, withdrew from Gaza in 2005 but then sealed the territory after the 2007 takeover of the territory by the Islamic militant group Hamas. Under interim peace deals reached in the 1990s, it directly controls 62 percent of the West Bank, known as Area C, home to settlers and largely off-limits to Palestinian development. Palestinians led by Hamas’ rival, Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas, have some autonomy in the rest of the West Bank.
Israel says it has been willing to negotiate an end to occupation, but that Palestinians rejected or responded with violence to generous Israeli offers in 2000 and 2008. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he remains open to talks, but he has shown little faith in Abbas. Talks have been at a standstill since Netanyahu took office in 2009.
Palestinians say a systematic colonization of east Jerusalem and the West Bank belies Israel’s claims that it is serious about ending occupation. Many members of Netanyahu’s government oppose Palestinian statehood, and several advocate annexing large parts of the West Bank.
The anthology, to be published in English, Hebrew, Arabic and several other languages, was conceived by Shaul and Waldman, who say they are Israeli patriots and want to contribute to ending occupation by helping shift public opinion at home and abroad.
“It is on our shoulders to stop the occupation and save Israel,” said Shaul, 32, who spent part of his military service in Hebron and a decade ago founded “Breaking The Silence,” a veterans’ group that collects soldiers’ testimony about abusive practices in the West Bank.
Netanyahu’s office did not respond to a request for comment on the book project.
Last week, Shaul accompanied Toibin to the Palestinian hamlet of Susiya, home to several dozen families. The village is flanked by a Jewish settlement and the ruins of a centuries-old Jewish town of the same name.
Palestinians lived in the area of the ruins until it was declared an archaeological site and they were forced to leave in the mid-1980s. Some moved to other Palestinian communities, while others settled a few hundred yards away, on land they say they own.
Israel refused to recognize the community or hook it up to electricity and water grids, while providing such services to the settlement of Susiya and unauthorized Jewish outposts in the area. Israel has also threatened to demolish the Palestinian village of tents and shacks.
In his essay, Toibin said he will tell the story of some of the displaced, including Nasser Nawaja, who now has to pay $7 to visit his birthplace at the archaeological site. Even then, Nawaja said, settlers only let him enter the site when he is accompanied by Israelis or foreigners.
On a hot summer day, Toibin toured the park with Nawaja, including a cave where the 34-year-old Palestinian said he was born and that is now used to screen a short film about ancient Susiya for visitors. The novelist, dressed in a crisp white shirt and gray linen pants, and the villager sat in the dark as they listened to a Jewish version of local history.
In writing about his experience, Toibin said he will avoid words like “occupation” and “”settlements” that he believes convey little meaning. “What I want to use are the smaller words to let people actually see what it is like on the (given) day for people who are humans under the same sky,” he said.
SAN DIEGO (AP) — After 7,582 games since 1969, the San Diego Padres still don’t have a no-hitter.
Edwin Jackson, of all pitchers, was the latest to try to pitch an elusive gem — in his Padres debut, no less.
Jackson held San Francisco hitless until Conor Gillaspie’s three-run homer with one out in the seventh inning, and the Padres held off the Giants 5-3 on Sunday for their first sweep of the season. They beat Johnny Cueto, who also was the losing pitcher in the All-Star Game at Petco Park on Tuesday night.
Jackson, making his first start since 2014, and three relievers combined on a two-hitter against the Giants, who despite losing three straight still have the best record in the majors at 57-36.
“It’s great to be here,” said Jackson, who’s with his 11th big league team. “Somewhat of an interesting day to say the least. … It was definitely a good way to have everything kicked off with a new team. I’ve been through a lot of ups and a lot of downs. I believe in what I can do. I’ve always believed in what I can do. It’s just a matter of going out and proving it once you get in between the lines.”
After striking out Brandon Crawford to open the seventh, Jackson bobbled Gregor Blanco’s grounder for an error and then walked Ramiro Pena before Gillaspie homered deep into the seats in right field on a 3-1 fastball. That cut the Padres’ lead to 4-3.
“It felt good,” Gillaspie said. “I wish we could have mustered a few more runs there at the end. All you can do is compete and give it everything you’ve got.”
Jackson (1-1) was then pulled. He walked five, struck out four and threw 90 pitches.
Until the homer, the Giants hadn’t come close to a hit as Jackson kept them off-balance, mostly with his slider.
San Diego remains the only big league team without a no-hitter.
Jackson pitched a no-hitter in 2010 for Arizona, walking eight and throwing 149 pitches to stop Tampa Bay.
The 32-year-old was signed to a minor league deal by the Padres on June 20 after being cut by Miami. He was promoted from Triple-A earlier Sunday to start in place of All-Star Drew Pomeranz, who was traded to Boston on Thursday. San Diego is his 11th big league club.
“I wish he could’ve picked up that ground ball,” manager Andy Green said. “I walked by him, he was in the video room watching it. I was like, ‘You’re gonna have a hard time letting that one go aren’t you?’ He was outstanding. Good mix. Slider was really good, mixed in the curveball later on.
“By the end of it he was like gassed. He gave us everything he had and he was outstanding.”
Padres catcher Christian Bethancourt worked with Jackson in Atlanta last year.
“He was aggressive. He was attacking the strike zone,” Bethancourt said. “I haven’t seen that Edwin Jackson in a long time, and I’m so glad I saw it today. I know he will keep doing it and he’ll help us win more ballgames.”
Jackson hit two singles and drove in a run. He also reached on a fielding error by Crawford.
Brandon Maurer pitched the ninth for his third save.
“We just couldn’t mount anything offensively until it looked like he tired out there,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
Cueto (13-2) lost for the first time since April 21 against Arizona. He had three straight complete-game victories against the Padres this season coming into Sunday.
Cueto had the same fate as he did in the All-Star Game, when he started for the NL and surrendered two home runs in an inning.
On Tuesday night, he allowed home runs to Kansas City’s Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez in the second.
On Sunday, Cueto allowed a solo homer by Matt Kemp to left-center leading off the fourth and a solo homer by Bethancourt into the first row in the second deck in left with two outs for a 2-0 San Diego lead. It was Kemp’s 18th and Bethancourt’s fifth.
Cueto made it into the sixth, allowing a leadoff walk to Alex Dickerson and a single to Bethancourt before making way for George Kontos. Rookie Ryan Schimpf hit an RBI single and Jackson followed two batters later with an RBI hit.
Cueto allowed four runs and six hits in five-plus innings, struck out four and walked three.
San Diego’s Yangervis Solarte homered in the seventh, his ninth.
Giants: Bochy said OF Hunter Pence, on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring, took Sunday off during his rehab assignment after getting hit by a pitch on Saturday.
Giants: After a day off, San Francisco opens a two-game series at Boston on Tuesday night when RHP Jake Peavy (5-7, 5.09) is scheduled to oppose RHP Rick Porcello (11-2, 3.66). Peavy started three postseason games for the Red Sox during their 2013 run to the World Series title.
Padres: San Diego heads to St. Louis for a four-game series starting Monday night, when LHP Christian Friedrich (4-5, 4.50) is set to face RHP Mike Leake (6-7, 4.14), who grew up in San Diego County.