All eyes are on the new basketball season, but all thoughts are with Flip Saunders


As the excitement builds for the start of the Timberwolves regular season, there is still a lot of concern around the health of Wolves coach and team president Flip Saunders.

Saunders is away from the team fighting Hodgkin's lymphoma. After years of coaching, teaching and playing the game, his basketball wings spread far and wide across the sport – and these days it's hard for them not to think of the man, who has meant so much to basketball in Minnesota.

The Wolves announced in September that Saunders was stepping away from the team to focus on his health. In his absence the team named Sam Mitchell the interim coach.

One of Saunders' closest friends in the coaching world is Michigan State's Tom Izzo. On Thursday, during Big Ten Media Day in Chicago, Izzo took a few minutes to share some thoughts with the Pioneer Press' Marcus Fuller, on Saunders' cancer fight.

While there isn't a lot of new information on Saunders' condition and when or if he'll be able to return to the Wolves, he's never far from the mind of those close to the team or league.

Oklahoma City's first year head coach Billy Donovan was in town last week when the Thunder played Minnesota in a preseason game. He spoke to about Saunders, who coached him in the CBA.

"You know, I've know Flip for a long time. Not many people know this, but Flip coached me in the CBA in Rapid City, South Dakota. I've always had great respect and admiration for him. He's always been a great guy. Kept in touch with him for a long time. We've text messaged periodically. I just feel terrible for him and his family, in terms of what he's going through. He's been wonderful for me." 

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