Doctors have diagnosed Flip Saunders with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, but he will continue with his duties as Timberwolves president of basketball operations and coach, the team announced. It’s a “very treatable and curable form of cancer,” the team said, and he’s currently undergoing chemotherapy. Still, he’s continued to work since the diagnosis took place eight weeks ago, according to the team.
“I am taking it step by step and day by day to understand how to best manage this process,” Saunders said. “I want to thank Dr. [Sheldon] Burns as well as my medical team at Mayo Clinic for their hard work in diagnosing my situation and creating a plan to help me achieve a cancer-free outcome. I am attacking this with the same passion I do everything in my life, knowing this is a serious issue. I also know that God has prepared me to fight this battle.”
Rumors about whether Saunders would hire someone else to coach and simply concentrate on the front office persisted until mid-June, when owner Glen Taylor declared that Saunders would remain coach. That statement would have come at about the same time as Saunders’ diagnosis. The Nuggets hired Michael Malone, who’d spent time with the Timberwolves last season in an informal role, two days prior to Taylor’s remark.
Saunders, 60, is poised to enter his 18th season as an NBA head coach. Sam Mitchell, who won Coach of the Year honors in 2007, is an assistant and an apparent favorite of Taylor’s who interviewed for the head coaching job last year before Saunders filled it with himself. GM Milt Newton is Saunders’ chief deputy in the front office.