Minnesota Timberwolves president and head coach Flip Saunders has passed away at the age of 60, the team announced Sunday. Saunders had been hospitalized since September due to complications from his treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
The Wolves first announced Saunders’s diagnosis in August, but he initially hoped to continue with his duties. However, complications arose and he was forced to leave the team. Team owner Glen Taylor said Friday that Saunders wouldn’t return to his jobs this year, and now the worst-case scenario has happened.
Saunders spent the majority of his NBA coaching career in Minnesota. After spending years in college and the CBA, he was hired in 1995 as general manager of the Wolves before soon taking over as head coach. He spent nine-plus seasons in that first Minnesota stint, reaching the playoffs eight times but only getting out of the first round once.
Saunders then coached the Detroit Pistons to the Eastern Conference Finals three consecutive years, only to be fired after the third trip. He spent a short time with the Boston Celtics as an advisor and then coached the Washington Wizards for two-plus seasons before returning to Minnesota as president of basketball operations. He took over as head coach again last season.
Saunders leaves us with a 654-594 regular-season head coaching record and a 47-51 postseason record. He leaves behind a wife and four children.
Sam Mitchell is the Wolves’ interim head coach and general manager Milt Newton will have increased responsibilities.