According to the Star Tribune's Jerry Zgoda, a return from Saunders has been ruled out for the upcoming campaign.
"Not this year," Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said Friday, per Zgoda. "I just think his illness, I mean, it’s serious. At this point, if he came back I still think he’d have a hard time to recover all his energy and all that because he has been in the hospital for a long time."
According to Zgoda, Saunders has been hospitalized since September after being diagnosed with cancer in June.
Sam Mitchell was named the team's interim head coach in early September. According to a September ESPN.com article, Saunders' doctors characterized his cancer as "very treatable and curable."
On Friday, Taylor characterized it as "an unbelievable situation we hadn’t anticipated going into this season," per Zgoda.
In addition to Mitchell taking over head-coaching duties, Zgoda reported general manager Milt Newton has assumed extra responsibilities, since Saunders also serves as the franchise's president of basketball operations.