Saunders announced in August that he had been diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma. Doctors considered it “very treatable and curable,” but in September, the Timberwolves announced that he would miss the entire 2015-16 season.
“I am taking it step by step and day by day to understand how to best manage this process,” Saunders said at the time when his cancer was revealed. “I am attacking this with the same passion I do everything in my life, knowing this is a serious issue. I also know that God has prepared me to fight this battle.”
In addition to Minnesota, where he was the winningest coach in franchise history, Saunders also had brief stints with the Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards. His career NBA record is 654-592.
He was recently an analyst at ESPN.
Born in Cleveland, Saunders was named high school player of the year before going on to play at the University of Minnesota, as well as the NBA.
He is survived by his wife and four children, including son Ryan, who is a Wolves assistant coach.