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Kings GM Candidates Profile: Adam Simon

Adam Simon, who has been part of the Miami Heat organization for 25 years, is probably going to be your favorite candidate for the GM opening if you favor building through the draft.

Adam Simon is one of the more popular candidates among those Sacramento recently requested permission to interview.

Simon, who has been part of the Miami Heat organization for the past 25 years, is often credited for the undeniably impressive scouting of the Heat in recent years, and with Sacramento regularly selecting in the lottery it's easy to understand the intrigue.

After Vlade Divac, who was practically gifted the general manager position with no prior experience, it's refreshing to hear a candidate that worked his way through an organization's internal rankings slowly. In 1995, before I was even born, Adam Simon joined Miami as an intern in the video room under current head coach Erik Spoelstra.

During the decade following his hiring as an intern, Simon held titles including but not limited to administrative assistant, scouting coordinator, scout, director of college scouting, and from 2004-11 he was Miami's director of college/international scouting.

Boasting a clear emphasis and history revolving around talent evaluation, Simon would eventually find himself as the General Manager of the Sioux Falls Skyforce in 2013, a job he would retain for five seasons.

Throughout those years in Sioux Falls, while also serving as an assistant GM for Miami, Simon rostered the undrafted talents of Rodney McGruder, Tyler Johnson, and Derrick Jones Jr.

McGruder, who was undrafted in 2013, jumped around various Summer League rosters before finding a temporary home in the Maine Red Claws where he played 26 games in 2014-15. In the following season, Adam Simon brought in McGruder to the Skyforce and by July of 2016 McGruder was signing a 3-year partially-guaranteed deal for the main club in South Beach.

Tyler Johnson was immediately picked up by Miami after going unselected in the 2014 Draft and hopped between Sioux Falls and Miami for one year before inking in a 2-year deal in February of 2015. Johnson went from undrafted to a rotation player that was signing a 4-year $50-million deal in 2016.

However, for both of these examples, when they departed from Miami their value and impact on the floor plummeted rapidly.

Tyler Johnson's case is likely due to the massive overpay forced by the Brooklyn Nets restricted offer but he was waived by the Phoenix Suns after they traded for him and not picked up until that same Nets organization was depleted and desperate in the Orlando bubble.

Rodney McGruder departed Maimi when his three-year deal expired and signed a respectable 3-year $15-million deal with the Los Angeles Clippers, yet his minutes have been sporadic and his percentages fell off a cliff.

How much of the credit for these two players belongs to Adam Simon for finding potential gems and how much of is should be awarded to the stellar Miami Heat coaching, development team, and culture?

It's probably a bit of both. Miami has the culture and development in place that aids certain player's growth, but Simon, and others, were successful finding players that would fit and buy into the said culture.

Three undrafted names, and former members of Sioux Falls, are playoff contributors on the current roster that awaits in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Derrick Jones Jr, who was on the Sacramento Summer League roster in 2016 after being undrafted, discovered a home in Miami after an uninspiring stint in Phoenix. Jones is an unrestricted free agent this offseason and I will be keeping tabs to see if he can continue to evolve outside of Miami.

Kendrick Nunn finished second in rookie of the year voting this season after going undrafted - although this is an outlier since his stock had plummeted due to an off-court issue that took place in college.

Duncan Robinson is surely the most well-known example of undrafted gems who is turning heads left and right with his video-game-like shooting on the move out the gates.

The list of players that were drafted with picks in the lottery with Simon's input, eventually leading to his promotion to Miami's Vice President of player personnel in July 2018, per AP News, is nothing to scoff at either.

According to the Sun Sentinel, the Heat described Simon's role as:

Simon assists Pat Riley and Andy Elisburg in all aspects of player personnel. During his time as Assistant GM, Simon has played an integral role in Miami drafting Tyler Herro, Bam Adebayo, Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson and KZ Okpala and acquiring undrafted players such as Derrick Jones, Jr., Duncan Robinson, Kendrick Nunn and Hassan Whiteside.

The two latest draft selections for the Heat are recent All-Star and modern dream center Bam Adebayo as well as Tyler Herro, the clutch sharpshooting rookie. Both were clearly great selections for where Miami was sitting in the middle to end of the lottery - a spot that Sacramento regularly finds themselves.

Most all of Adam Simon's intrigue seems to stem from his draft history, yet I struggle to not give a notable chunk of the credit to the culture that Miami has had in place since Simon came on board 25 years ago. Again, Simon was successful in identifying talent that would fit that culture, but what good does that do in Sacramento, a franchise with a nonexistent culture?

The hope would be that Simon could carry over the Miami work ethic and experience with him in an infectious manner. Plus, drafting talents the caliber of Bam and Herro would be of value no matter, following Divac who was ridiculed for numerous draft day selections.

This also is far from the first time Simon has been listed as a candidate for a front office opening.

In 2016, the Denver Nuggets eyed Adam Simon as a potential player for their General Manager position.

In June of 2017, Simon was one of many names listed as a candidate for the Milwaukee Bucks General Manager opening. Simon was reported by the Sun-Sentinel to have been given internal promotions following these two interview requests.

Simon previously had been linked to front-office vacancies with the Milwaukee Bucks and Denver Nuggets, with the Heat following up those overtures with promotions

In March of 2018, the Charlotte Hornets were seeking a new general manager and granted permission to speak with three candidates, per ESPN: Mitch Kupchak (who eventually accepted the position), Marc Eversley, and Adam Simon.

As recent as April of 2020, Simon was linked to the Chicago Bulls president of basketball operations opening - which he quickly turned down.

Adam Simon grew up in Miami and is reportedly profoundly respected by Pat Riley. He has been pitched four general manager or president of basketball operation openings in recent years and presumably silently examined for many more.

The attention he has drawn alone should speak for how highly regarded Simon is throughout the NBA, but he absolutely is a home-run swing for the Kings.

I just struggle to see him finding Sacramento as the place to be after denying comparable roles in Charlotte, Chicago, Denver, and Milwaukee.

Simon is currently listed V.P. of Basketball Operations and Assistant General Manager of the Miami Heat and could very well end up being promoted alongside current General Manager Andy Elisburg (who has been with Miami since 1988) when inevitably Pat Riley decides to call it quits.

If the Kings could pry him away, it would be a cause for celebration, it just seems as though Adam Simon is content with his current role and potential future in his hometown of Miami.

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David Echard
14 days ago

Culture and Player Development. Sac Gets a Big Fat F. If Simon can bring that Miami Heat Culture. Revamp the Kings Scouting and Development team. Than, I believe we have a winner. Probably all depends if he is the heir apparent to Riles. If not, he may listen to Vivek for at least 2 minutes. Then saying, This is not a good fit for me. He would definitely be a great hire without a doubt.

Eric W
14 days ago
Reply to  Brenden

I mean, this is the challenge of ultimately just being highly engaged fans. We generally have no real way of knowing exactly what these people should get credit for or precisely what role they’re playing.

Adam Dieter
14 days ago

Yes please, but he ain’t coming here. He’d be my #1 option but I just don’t see why he would leave Miami. My guess is he is rooted there and will be handed the keys when the time comes. There is no real reason for him to leave.

Kevin Lam
14 days ago
Reply to  Adamsite

“As I said to the other candidates….one to two years paid vacation on us, guaranteed!”
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Greg Lederman
14 days ago
Reply to  Klam

Perfect!

J Man
14 days ago
Reply to  Adamsite

Sounds like we’d be a real Underdog t capture Simon!

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Last edited 14 days ago by Jman1949
Steven Cheng
14 days ago

This is how the interview should go with Simon:
vivek: Mr. Simon, thank you for coming out here (or virtually coming out ). We know who you are and what you’ve done so let’s cut to the chest: what do you want us to do for you?
Adam: (hopefully he’s brought a To do list and goes over with Vivek) Give me the key to drive this Kangz out of basketball purgatory and I will be here with my family.

Bryant Strause
14 days ago

For sure my favorite candidate but it would be a long shot for him to accept a job with the kings. Does not sound like Miami wants him to leave if they keep promoting him every time he gets an interview. Also does not sound like he wants to leave Miami, especially if Miami is his hometown and he could be given a dream job when Riley leaves.

Can we count it as a win that he has not yet turned down the interview?

Terance Dass
14 days ago

Those second rounders must be a selling point! He would definitely be a great addition.

Greg Wissinger
Admin
14 days ago

As other have said, I really like Simon but have a hard time seeing him coming here.

Also, jesus Brenden is a child.

Greg Wissinger
Admin
14 days ago
Reply to  Brenden

I almost added an editors note in the middle of it to tell you to get off my lawn.

Adam Dieter
14 days ago
Reply to  Greg

BREAKING: Kings trade De’Aaron Fox, their 2021 First round pick, and Slamson for the right to interview Adam Simon. Simon denies interest and decides to stick with Miami. Riley announces his retirement.

Rory Cornell
14 days ago

Wait this guy isn’t even second in command for the Heat?

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Last edited 14 days ago by RORDOG
Rory Cornell
14 days ago

Imagine an alternate universe in which the Kings had drafted Doncic, but decided to fire Joerger and Vivek after Doncic’s rookie season. Vivek would’ve had a line of candidates for the GM job from the arena to Old Sac.

Steven Cheng
14 days ago
Reply to  RORDOG

Some people may prefer jumping into dumpster fire than an already established organization simply they like to be challenged. Otherwise I don’t see why anyone would want this job.

I am not even mad if Geoff Petrie un-retire to help steer this team in the right direction….

Greg Lederman
14 days ago

No way Vivek gets him to come here, but I did enjoy his time on Jersey Shore:
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My Neighbor Turturro
14 days ago
Reply to  Gregoryl

Good comparison. I keep mistaking him that right-wing bro podcaster whose name makes my mouth taste bad when I say it.

100 times out of 100, though, I’m picking him as a favorite candidate.

Ican Hascheezburger
14 days ago

Marty’s probably already done one of these, but here’s one with Simon in it just in case…
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Kevin Lam
14 days ago
Reply to  Kosta

When did Vivek get taller than Vlade?

Ican Hascheezburger
14 days ago
Reply to  Klam

When Vlade got boobs I guess

My Neighbor Turturro
14 days ago
Reply to  Klam

I think it’s more of a Tom Cruise scenario in which everyone around him has to pretend that he’s not being filmed on an apple box or stack of milk crates, and that he’s “totally average height”.

Parker Wells
14 days ago

Agree with everyone so far. He’s clearly the home run swing in the list. Also the only one on the list with championship pedigree as far as I can tell.

Vivek’s asking him if the chances are one in 100, and he answers “more like one in a million”. And we’re stuck thinking “So you’re saying there’s a chance?”

Ralph Lawrence Reyes
14 days ago

Aside from Gupta he’s my other favorite to be our next GM but like everyone said he’s a long shot to come here and take over the reigns which is really sad.. With his credentials in finding talent thru the draft and a strong player development, those are 2 qualities that Sacramento should be looking for in a GM. With a small market plus the difficulty in landing marquee free agents, inorder for Sac to be successful long term they need to prioritize those 2 things in which Simon is really good at it.

Eric W
14 days ago
Reply to  RAP87

But as a small market they also have to prioritize trades and using their cap to their advantage! Argh! I can’t decide! Just kidding, I think both Gupta and Simon are great options and hope either one of them would bring in others to complement their abilities.

Maxwell Huss
14 days ago

Man, I know we’re all fired up about this list of candidates. But I just can’t help but think how we’ve just been so beaten down by this org over the years that even league average replacements look like home run swings.

I mean we’re talking about the 3rd guy in Miami. The guy behind the guy behind THE guy. And this is our top candidate. It’s like just the fact that he’s been considered other places makes it feel like we’re getting the next Red Auerbach or something.

Look, I get it. We’ve been conditioned by the Pete/Vlade years to cling to every possible shred of hope for the last 7 years. And I’m also more optimistic than I was a few weeks ago. I like Simon as a candidate, and I’m intrigued by Gupta. But just the fact we’re talking about how even these 2nd tier candidates likely won’t even come here is just sad to me.

This organization is just so bad. Like historically terrible. And it just strikes me every so often when I hear someone like Adam Simon considered a “home run swing” just how low our expectations are for this franchise. I mean, this is just my opinion. But a “home run swing” by almost any other NBA franchise’s standards would mean going after Sam Hinkie. You might strike out, but you might win a couple championships. Simon would be a solid double, though.

I just think that you could sum up the entire Vivek Ranadive era into one sentence. “Aim low, and yet still fail.”

Ok, rant over. I don’t mean to be a buzzkill. Let’s go get Simon or Gupta or whoever and hope they can overcome the stunning incompetence exhibited by those who would be their bosses.

Ican Hascheezburger
14 days ago
Reply to  AirmaxPG

Feel the same way, but also am concerned we might not even be able to land one from this crop.

I can’t help but imagine the Kings have a reputation such that people who excel at their jobs will want to stay away from us.

They’ve seen what happened here, and how many people have come and gone… The ones who are still here–Vivek and (?) have shown a lot of incompetence at running a good organization.

I know there are only 30 of these jobs and that they’re scarce, but if I were one of these guys, I’d probably think it’s not worth the risk.

Last edited 14 days ago by Kosta
Parker Wells
14 days ago
Reply to  Kosta

There’s concern of course. But there’s no need of it with these candidates just yet. Nobody has even interviewed for the position to this point.

For me all of the concerns are with Vivek and the ownership group, and most of that is how much they are willing to spend to make this team a winner on the court. He’s gone cheap on both GMs he’s hired. He runs a skeleton crew in the front office. There has been a lot of turnover across the entire franchise, which usually means kicking out experienced workers for cheaper options. The team is consistently in the bottom 10 in team salary.

Eric W
14 days ago
Reply to  AirmaxPG

I mean, both Simon and Gupta are more experienced and higher profile prospects than Hinkie when he was hired by the Sixers. And significantly more experienced than Morey when he was hired. Gupta, specifically would be an extremely Hinkie/Morey hire but with more experience. Promoting people is how you get smart, talented people to change jobs. Sure, there are guys that may simply not be interested like Webster and Zarren and Langdon, and Simon is absolutely right in there when talking about the next generation of GMs, but those guys have turned down chances to interview for numerous GM positions. So I don’t think enthusiasm over these guys is really low expectations. Guys like Simon and McNair are on every potential GM list right now. The same way guys like Weaver, Winger, Webster, Schlenk and Rosa were the past couple seasons.

I’d also say that I don’t think it’s accurate to talk about these guys’ positions like they all fit into some common BB flowchart. The hierarchies, roles, and decision-making power changes from from org to org. One “Assistant GM” in one org may easily have more say and responsibility than a “GM” in another. In some orgs a VP of Basketball Ops may sit above the GM in the org chart, while in another those two roles may be in the same tier. Who reports to whom isn’t necessarily consistent from org to org.

Last edited 14 days ago by BestHyperboleEver
Maxwell Huss
14 days ago

I get what you are saying, but as we have mentioned before we really don’t know how much impact these assistant have had in their current roles. For every Morey or Ujiri, there are probably a dozen D’Allesandro’s. Fine assistants who just aren’t good at being the lead guy.

That’s why I hesitate to call these “home run swings”. These are league average candidates that everyone is looking at. There might be a gem in there, but it is often hit or miss with unproven candidates (like in any job).

The point I was trying to make is a “home run swing” would be going after someone with already proven success at the highest level of being lead decision-maker. And not like Dumars successful 15 years ago. I think the only reason Hinkie is available is because Embiid was hurt for 2 years, and his vision wasn’t realized until after he was gone. If Morey gets let go by Houston… that would be another “Home run swing”. Guys that are PROVEN they can go toe-to-toe with the big boys, like Ainge, Presti, etc.

To continue the baseball analogy, I think back to the final scene in “Moneyball”, when the Red Sox ponied up a big offer to Billy Beane. He rejected, but that was a home run swing, and the BoSox won the chip like two years later. They were thinking big, and they ended up with an unconventional choice in Epstein, which turned out to be wildly successful.

So maybe Simon or Gupta is our Epstein. But the fact we don’t even consider a guy like Hinkie (assuming that’s the case) is to me just indicative of a small-market team that always thinks small, and is content to be in the bottom half of the league.

J Man
13 days ago
Reply to  AirmaxPG

Maybe we first need to be able to get the ball out of the infield:

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T I
13 days ago
Reply to  Jman1949

“Curveball, bats are afraid.”

Maxwell Huss
13 days ago
Reply to  Jman1949

I just don’t think that mentality works at the NBA level. This is competition in its highest form. “Hitting it out of the infield” could just be a lazy pop fly, and doesn’t win shit.

Parker Wells
13 days ago
Reply to  AirmaxPG

Your reasoning reminds me of picking wide receivers in my fantasy football leagues. Do I take the 3rd wide receiver from a high octane passing offense like the Chiefs, or do I take a number one WR on a bad team like the Jaguars? One is obviously lower in the heirarchy, both options will probably get me the same amount of points.

I don’t know if you are more right than BHE here, but the end result may be the same.

Maxwell Huss
13 days ago
Reply to  Wonderchild

I think the question should be which wide receiver would thrive best in a lead role? We know what we’re getting with the Jags guy. But Sammy Watkins didn’t light the league on fire when he was with the Bills. With either one you’re not moving the needle…

I want the superstar receiver who thrived but was misunderstood in another situation. Give me Patriots Randy Moss. Hinkie’s that guy… That’s what I’m going for 😉

Eric W
13 days ago
Reply to  AirmaxPG

The problem being, unlike in a fantasy draft, Randy Moss actually has to want to play. Then he has to want to play for you.

Last edited 13 days ago by BestHyperboleEver
Maxwell Huss
13 days ago

If Randy Moss is unemployed and in lower demand that he should have been due to being Raider’d… You give him what he wants. If he still doesn’t want to come here, you tried your best.

Greg Lederman
14 days ago
Reply to  AirmaxPG

Baby steps. Let’s not screw something up completely first, and then we can aim higher.

Maxwell Huss
13 days ago
Reply to  Gregoryl

I don’t think successful teams think this way. I think those who excel go into each and every season with the goal of winning a championship. Either now or in the very near future. Especially in the NBA, when windows are generally so small and margin for error is very low. Things will happen out of your control (like Webber injury) and it’s all over. These professionals need to be the very best at what they do to compete at this level.

I think the Vivek Kings operate on a different set of standards. They have been trying to build a “playoff team” for 7 years. They need to aim higher and try to build a championship team. Like every other team does. Maybe then playoffs will come.

Murray Bowron
13 days ago
Reply to  AirmaxPG

Geez I’d settle for a competent team at this stage

Maxwell Huss
13 days ago
Reply to  Murf

Yep it’s sad that’s the bar we are working with here.

J Man
14 days ago

Actually we don’t know that the Kings have ruled out going after Hinkie. The names we know about were made public because we had to ask for permission from their current teams to speak with them.

Eric W
14 days ago
Reply to  Jman1949

We also have no idea if Hinkie has any interest at all in getting back into basketball. It isn’t like he’s a basketball lifer sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring. He’s got plenty of other stuff in the hopper.

J Man
14 days ago

Yeah, my comment was intended as a reply to AirmaxPG’s rant, just to point out there may be other possibilities beyond the list that we currently know about. I’m not particularly optimistic that we’ll wind up with one of he candidates that are getting support in these threads, but I’m mildly encouraged by the public process so far.

Eric W
14 days ago
Reply to  Jman1949

I’m generally holding my (dis)pleasure until we either see who’s hired or see the process go sideways.

Maxwell Huss
14 days ago
Reply to  Jman1949

That’s true, they could still be considering him. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how this all unfolds.

Eric W
13 days ago
Reply to  AirmaxPG

Or he could simply have no interest in getting back into an NBA FO position. I mean, he’s a Stanford professor/venture capitalist/start-up incubator/highly-paid consultant.

Last edited 13 days ago by BestHyperboleEver
Rory Cornell
13 days ago

Amick discussed this on CD’s show the other day. I went back and listened to it on the pod earlier, and Amick flat out said Hinkie is “happy with his lot in life”, and “I don’t anticipate Sam being a part of this situation at all”. He added “I guarantee you the message has been sent (from Hinkie to Vivek)” that Hinkie believes Gupta is the right person for the job.

Other notes:

  • Sam mentioned that blue chip guys like Bobby Webster aren’t on the list because the Kings have already heard through channels they aren’t interested
  • He said it was always believed that Scott Perry would be part of the process at the end
Maxwell Huss
13 days ago
Reply to  RORDOG

And to me it’s another indictment of the Kings that Hinkie doesn’t want to be a part of *this situation*. Meaning it’s possible either the money and/or the lack of autonomy guaranteed by Vivek is an issue. Hey, it would be a longshot, but this team needs to hit a home run here. Maybe Gupta is that guy, and I’m encouraged by his ties to both Hinkie and Morey.

Very concerning that Webster doesn’t want to listen to an offer. And even more concerning if they are locked into Perry in some way.

Rory Cornell
13 days ago
Reply to  AirmaxPG

Reading between the lines I feel like Hinkie doesn’t want to be involved, at least in part, out of respect to Gupta. Essentially, his protege has earned the right to run his own team, so he doesn’t want to impede that by throwing his hat in the ring.

To your general point, I think every single person in the NBA knows A) The Kings have sucked for ever, B) they have a meddling owner, and C) they aren’t willing to overpay candidates to overlook A & B.

It just is what it is. There may be some blue chip potential candidate out there that’s crazy enough to believe they can pull it off here, but that’s just such an outlier event it’s not really realistic to expect at this point.

It’s not a perfect analogy, but this situation isn’t that much different than free agency for players. The Kings aren’t a destination for the stars, so they either have to overpay for vets or find diamonds in the rough. Scott Perry would be an example of the vet overpay route. Gupta would be the type of guy who has excelled in a reserve role, and the hope is that his stats won’t slip if given starter minutes.

Eric W
13 days ago
Reply to  RORDOG

Gupta is 2016 Jokic!

Maxwell Huss
13 days ago
Reply to  RORDOG

I could see that being the case. If Gupta is the hire, I’m happy with it.

It would be telling if Gupta didn’t want it though. Hinkie’s been an advisor before, he could be telling his protege to stay far away from this situation.

So we’ll see I guess.

Maxwell Huss
13 days ago

It’s possible. But I’d love to see the Kings at least try.

Eric W
13 days ago
Reply to  AirmaxPG

You’d love to see the Kings publicly try (even if they already know the answer).

Maxwell Huss
13 days ago

Yes I would. If they are privately trying, I’m cool with that too.

Shawn S
14 days ago

Why would he leave a great job on a highly functioning team to come to Sacramento and have Walton as his coach?

Eric W
13 days ago

You never know what motivates people. I, for example, chose to work at smaller companies (for smaller salaries) where I could have more autonomy and more control over my final product. The allure of being able to pursue your own vision can be a really strong one.

Richie J
14 days ago

I think he’s the best option among the known targets, but I doubt he’ll leave Miami.

Last edited 14 days ago by richie88
Michael Jones
13 days ago

This dude is a Heat Lifer. He is not coming here, unfortunately.

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