Some 25 years after he first played for Flip Saunders in the Continental Basketball Association, former Timberwolves player and coach Sidney Lowe reunited with the team’s new head coach once again on Friday, when Lowe officially was named to Saunders’ staff.
This will be his fourth time working for Saunders as an assistant coach. He worked for him twice before with the Wolves more than a decade ago, and they spent one season together in Detroit as well.
Lowe is the first officially named assistant to a staff that also will include former Wolves player Sam Mitchell and Saunders’ son, Ryan.
Lowe, 54, was an NBA head coach for nearly four full seasons with the Wolves and Vancouver/Memphis and coached alma mater North Carolina State for five seasons, too.
He spent last season as an assistant to former Wolves teammate Ty Corbin in Utah. In December, Lowe pleaded guilty to tax-evasion charges in North Carolina, where he was placed on 36 months of unsupervised probation and ordered to pay $81,000 in restitution and a fine.
Lowe said Friday the chance to work again with Saunders trumped any other opportunities he had.
“He asked me what did I think, and I said I’m coming, no matter what,” Lowe said. “It doesn’t matter who calls, I’m coming. That’s my belief in him, my trust in him, my loyalty to him and our friendship.
‘‘It doesn’t matter what was out there. When he called me back, it was done.”
A member of North Carolina State’s 1983 NCAA title team, Lowe said he was ready to retire from his playing days when Saunders called him in 1988 and asked him to come to Rapid City, S.D., to participate in the CBA playoffs. That decision led to one more chance in the NBA with Charlotte and the Wolves each in their inaugural seasons, which led to his 20-plus year coaching career.
Lowe started at point guard in the Wolves’ very first game, at Seattle in November 1989, and coached the team for 135 games during the 1992-93 and 1993-94 seasons after head coach Jimmy Rodgers was fired.
“This place has always meant a lot to me,” Lowe said. “A couple of the hellos I’ve gotten basically have said, ‘Welcome home.’ It’s great to be back, and obviously to be back with Flip.”
Lowe was asked Friday if Saunders’ open-ended future as head coach gave him any pause to take the job.
“I feel it is good hands,” he said. “That’s my answer to cover everything: it’s in good hands. Flip is here, Mr. [Glen] Taylor believes in him. He’s proven himself time and time again. I’m just here to assist and follow.”
Lucky No. 13?
Michigan State power forward Adrien Payne will work out at Target Center on Saturday. He arrived in Minneapolis on Thursday night and is the first candidate for the Wolves’ 13th overall pick that the Wolves brought to town.
UCLA forward Kyle Anderson, another projected first-round pick, was also among the six-man group expected to work out.
Friday’s six-man group included one first-round prospect, Connecticut senior guard Shabazz Napier.
So … is there enough room for two Shabazzes on one NBA team?
“Well, his name is Sha-bahz and my name is Sha-baaz,” Napier said, emphasizing the pronunciation that differentiates him from Shabazz Muhammad, “so that’s totally different. But I mean, you never know, you never know.”
• Ryan Saunders, whose contract with Washington is about to expire, watched Friday’s workout dressed in a shirt and tie.