Minnesota Timberwolves president and coach Flip Saunders will start the season focusing on his battle with cancer, clearing the way for the franchise to promote assistant Sam Mitchell to interim head coach, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
A formal announcement on the move is expected soon, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Saunders was diagnosed with a treatable form of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma this summer and has been undergoing chemotherapy. There’s hope that Saunders can return to the bench this season, but Mitchell is expected to be the interim coach no less than half the season, league sources told Yahoo.
Saunders’ assistant coaching staff includes his son, Ryan, and recent hire Bryan Gates, who had been a top assistant under Monty Williams in New Orleans. Mitchell was the 2007 NBA Coach of the Year with the Toronto Raptors, with whom he went 156-189 in parts of five seasons that included two playoff trips. Mitchell is a favorite of Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor. Mitchell played 10 seasons with the T'wolves.