Seattle Storm coach Dan Hughes has been diagnosed with an undisclosed form of cancer that was discovered after a recent emergency appendectomy.
Hughes said in a video released by the team Friday that a treatment plan is still being finalized by doctors at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle but that he is expected to undergo surgery before the new season begins in late May.
Neither Hughes nor the team specified the type cancer.
“Our thoughts and support are with Dan, Mary and their family,” Storm CEO and general manager Alisha Valavanis said. “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.”
The 64-year-old led Seattle to the WNBA title last season. Seattle went 26-8 in the regular season, led by league MVP Breanna Stewart, and after beating Phoenix in five games in the conference finals, defeated Washington in a three-game sweep to claim its third league title. It was Hughes’ first title after 16 seasons as a head coach in the WNBA.
The news about Hughes is the second major blow for the Storm this week after Stewart suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon while playing for the Russian club Dynamo Kursk in the EuroLeague Women championship game in Hungary. Stewart underwent surgery to repair the injury Thursday but will miss the upcoming season.
Seattle drafted 6-foot-4, 19-year-old Australian prospect Ezi Magbegor with the 12th overall pick in the WNBA draft earlier this month, but Magbegor is not joining the Storm until 2020, even with Stewart now missing this season.