T-Wolves coach Saunders takes leave for cancer battle

Fri Sep 11, 2015 12:37pm EDT
 
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(Reuters) - Minnesota Timberwolves head coach and president Flip Saunders will take a leave of absence from the NBA club while he remains in hospital from complications related to his cancer treatments, the team said on Friday.

The 60-year-old Saunders, who announced last month that he is being treated for Hodgkin's lymphoma, was admitted to a local area hospital where he remains while undergoing further testing and treatment.

"First and foremost, my immediate concern is for the Saunders family and the health of Flip," Timberwolves majority owner Glen Taylor said in a statement.

"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."

The Timberwolves said assistant coach Sam Mitchell would serve as the Timberwolves' interim coach while general manager Milt Newton assumes an increased role in the day-to-day and strategic operations of the basketball department.

Saunders returned to the struggling Timberwolves as president of basketball operations in 2013, eight years after he was sacked by the team as their head coach. He replaced the retired Rick Adelman on the bench last year.

"The family would appreciate everyone continuing to respect our privacy going forward as we journey down the road ahead," the Saunders family said in a statement.

"We are fully committed to Flip's long-term health and look forward to him returning to his Timberwolves responsibilities at the appropriate time."

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond)