Wolves coach/executive Flip Saunders has died, the team announced via Twitter. Saunders was 60.
Saunders has been battling the effects of cancer treatment and his health situation became dire earlier this month. Changes to way that Saunders‘ body had responded to chemotherapy for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma placed him in a life-threatening situation.
The team called the ailment a “very treatable and curable form of cancer” in August, when it announced his diagnosis along with the news that Saunders would continue his duties as head coach and president of basketball operations. A shift occurred last month, when Saunders took a leave of absence. Sam Mitchell has been coaching the team and GM Milt Newton running the team’s basketball operations since Saunders went on leave. The team said at that point that he’d experienced complications related to the treatments he was receiving and that he was undergoing tests and further treatment at a hospital.
As Saunders’ condition worsened recently, owner Glen Taylor said that Saunders would not return to the team this season because of the complications.
Saunders coached the Wizards, Pistons and Wolves in a career that spanned 17 seasons and included 654 victories. Saunders’ death was shocking and saddening to many around the league. Saunders was both well-liked and well-respected for a variety of reasons.