Flip Saunders was in a coma for nearly six weeks before his death at age 60, writes Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune. He had one more treatment left for Hodgkin’s lymphoma when he came down with pneumonia, went into the hospital, and failed to recover, sources told Hartman. Saunders was optimistic in the months leading up to his death, about his own prognosis — saying that he thought he’d return to the team shortly after the New Year — and about the Timberwolves, as Hartman details. The coach/executive predicted a title for the team within three years, though close friends speculated that by that time, he hoped that he could turn over head coaching duties to son Ryan, a Wolves assistant coach, according to Hartman. Saunders was by far the winningest coach in Timberwolves history, going 427-392 over his two tenures in the job, and was the only coach ever to take the team to the playoffs, the Star Tribune’s Jerry Zgoda writes in an obituary. As the NBA mourns, see more from the Northwest Division:
- The issue of whether or not the Thunder sign Dion Waiters to an extension could signal whether the team is committed to significant spending for years to come or if the Thunder’s recent high payrolls represent a temporary strategy, writes Keith P. Smith of RealGM. Oklahoma City is reportedly actively exploring an extension for the former No. 4 overall pick in advance of the November 2nd deadline.
- Rudy Gobert credits the arrival of Jazz coach Quin Snyder last season with a renewed focus on defense and increased cohesion, as Gobert, optimistic about the season ahead, details to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders.
- The deal that point guard Eric Atkins signed Sunday with the Jazz is non-guaranteed and for one year at the minimum salary, as Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders reveals (Twitter link).