The Seattle Storm announced Friday that head coach Dan Hughes was diagnosed with cancer and will undergo surgery in the coming weeks.
Hughes, 64, led the Storm to the 2018 WNBA championship in his first season. The team is set to begin training camp the beginning of May and open the season May 25 in defense of the Storm’s third overall title.
Hughes expects to have surgery before the opener, according to the release. The news comes at the heels of MVP Breanna Stewart’s Achilles injury.
Hughes to have surgery before opener
Hughes announced the news next to his wife, Mary, in a video on the Storm’s YouTube page.
“A few weeks ago I underwent emergency appendectomy,” Hughes said. “During the procedure the doctors found a form of cancer. After consulting with team Dr. Adam Pourcho and the oncology team at Swedish (Medical Center) we formulated a treatment plan that will likely include a surgery in the coming weeks. While there are still some unknowns, I wanted you to be the first to know.
“My family and I are thankful for your support and we are looking forward to seeing you at the games this summer.”
Hughes will undergo surgery by Dr. Amir Bastawrous at the Swedish First Hill Campus before the season opener, per the Storm. They’re set to open May 25 at home against the Phoenix Mercury, a rematch of the heated semifinal.
“Our thoughts and support are with Dan, Mary and their family,” Storm CEO and general manager Alisha Valavanis said in a statement. “Dan’s health is a top priority and the Storm will stand beside him on this journey. The coaching staff is in place and will support should any time be missed for recovery.”
Hughes is a 17-year coaching veteran with an overall 263-295 record in Charlotte, Cleveland and San Antonio.
The Storm had a league-best record of 26-8 last year in winning their third overall WNBA title. They went 6-2 in postseason play, including 3-0 in the Finals. The coaching staff includes former interim coach Gary Kloppenburg and Noelle Quinn.
Rough stretch into WNBA season
The news concludes a bad week for the Storm. League MVP Breanna Stewart injured her leg during the EuroLeague final Sunday night. The Storm confirmed Wednesday the 24-year-old superstar would miss the entire 2019 season with a ruptured Achilles.
She underwent surgery Thursday.
The team will not play in its home stadium this year, either, and new reports indicate it may be out of a home longer than expected.
The Seattle Times’ Geoff Baker toured the renovations at KeyArena on Thursday and reported the cost has skyrocketed to more than $900 million with a delay in the targeted opening date that could impact the Storm.
The arena, which will also host the city’s new NHL team, is targeted to reopen June 1, 2021. If it stays that date, the Storm could go on the road to start the season before returning to the new digs. If it’s any later, which is a possibility, the team has to find somewhere to play. Per the Seattle Times, the developer will have to pay $260,000 for every 2021 home game missed due to relocation.
The Storm will play most of its 2019 games at the University of Washington’s Alaska Airlines Arena. Some games will also be at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, including the home opener.
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