Yesterday, word leaked Timberwolves president/coach Flip Saunders is stepping aside after a cancer diagnosis and Sam Mitchell is becoming interim head coach.
How long will this setup last?
Zach Bennett of Hardwood Paroxysm, citing Timberwolves CEO Rob Moor:
The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced that Sam Mitchell will serve as interim head coach while Flip Saunders takes a leave of absence from his duties as Head Coach and President of Basketball Operations. In Saunders’ absence, Timberwolves general manager Milt Newton will assume an increased role in the day-to-day and strategic operations of the basketball department.
Saunders, who had been undergoing chemotherapy treatment after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma earlier this summer, recently experienced complications from his completed treatments. Recently, he was admitted to a local area hospital where he remains at this time while undergoing further testing and treatment.
The following are statements from Timberwolves Owner Glen Taylor, General Manager Milt Newton, and Interim Head Coach Sam Mitchell:
Glen Taylor, Timberwolves Majority Owner
“First and foremost, my immediate concern is for the Saunders family and the health of Flip. Our priority right now is for him to regain his strength so that he can be 100 percent when he returns to his Timberwolves duties. In the interim, I remain confident in the direction of our team. I have known Sam Mitchell for a number of years, back to his playing days in Minnesota. He is a former NBA Head Coach of the Year. I have no doubt he will get the most out of our players and will continue to serve as a great mentor to our young and talented players as interim head coach.”
Milt Newton, Timberwolves General Manager
“Flip has our full support and backing as he takes time to focus on his health. In the interim, we are confident in Sam and his ability to make this a seamless transition for our players. Sam has a long history with both Flip and Glen and we don’t anticipate much to change in terms of our basketball philosophy.”
Sam Mitchell, Timberwolves Interim Head Coach
“My thoughts right now are with Flip and the Saunders family. In the interim, I am confident that I can continue to build the foundation that Flip has established. We have a team blended with talented young guys and experienced veterans. We’re excited to see how this team comes together in training camp.”