Chet Kammerer — a 22-year Heat employee who has spearheaded the Heat’s draft efforts for more than a decade and is “as good as it gets” in NBA talent evaluation, according to Jeff Van Gundy — has decided to step down as the Heat’s vice president/player personnel, according to two league sources.
Kammerer confirmed the move when reached by the Miami Herald.
Replacing Kammerer: Adam Simon, a 23-year Heat employee who has been serving as general manager of the Heat’s successful G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, and also has been very involved in Heat draft preparations. He’s being promoted to vice president/player personnel while retaining the title of assistant general manager.
Kammerer will shift into a new role as senior adviser to basketball operations, offering counsel to Simon and the coaching staff. It’s a move that the 75-year-old Kammerer requested in order to spend more time with his family, including his wife and eight grandchildren, and reduce his travel.
“When I spoke to [Heat GM] Andy Elisburg and [president] Pat Riley, I requested a change in role but wanted to stay involved. Andy came up with [this new position]. I will give my input.
“I’ve worked 25 years in the NBA and my two bosses were Pat Riley and [former Lakers president] Jerry West; I learned from two icons. I am very fortunate to have had that,” Kammerer said, while also expressing appreciation to Heat owner Micky Arison and CEO Nick Arison.
Kammerer joined the Heat as West Coast scout in 1996; he previously spent 27 years as a college basketball head coach at two NAIA programs (Grace and Westmont) and was a Lakers assistant coach under Randy Pfund from 1992 to 1994.
He has served as vice president/player personnel for the Heat since 2004. Riley makes the final decision on Heat draft picks but has placed a high value on Kammerer’s input.
Kammerer, who is in the NAIA Hall of Fame as a coach, is credited for advocating that the Heat select Josh Richardson 40th in the 2015 draft; Richardson might be the best second-round pick from that draft. Among Kammerer’s other savvy moves was signing Tyler Johnson for the Heat’s summer-league program after he went undrafted in 2014.
But when asked which personnel suggestion that he’s more proud of, he said: “It’s a team effort, but one of the guys I pushed for was Udonis Haslem. I was insistent we invite him to summer league and training camp” in 2003 after he played a year in France.
Kammerer is close with coach Erik Spoelstra and will be in regular touch with Spoelstra in his new role. Every summer, the two men take a 46-mile bike ride from Kammerer’s home in Redondo Beach, Calif., to Santa Monica, as detailed in a 2017 Palm Beach Post piece.
“He’s a man of character, he’s a man of faith, he’s a man of great humility,” Spoelstra said in that piece. “I’ve learned more from that example of those things than about what type of player to pick for the Miami Heat. That’s probably the greatest compliment you can give him.”
In 2016, Van Gundy, the former Knicks coach and current ESPN analyst, told the Miami Herald that Kammerer’s “ability to identify undrafted guys and second-round guys is one of the NBA’s great stories that is never talked about because Chet has zero ego. They will build a statue of [Dwyane] Wade, Riley, and Spoelstra. But Chet Kammerer should not be far behind.”
Kammerer’s son Chad is the Heat’s director of NBA scouting and an advance scout.
Simon, meanwhile, has earned high marks for his work running Miami’s G League team. ESPN analyst Amin Elhassan said last week that the Heat does “the best job in the league in terms of utilizing [its] G League team.”
Charlotte received permission in March to interview Simon for its GM job, a position that eventually went to former Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak.
Simon joined the Heat in 1995 as an intern in the video room and was promoted multiple times, serving as the Heat’s director of college/international scouting (2004-11), then three seasons as the director of player personnel, and the past five years as GM of the Sioux Falls Skyforce and assistant general manager for the Heat, a role in which he assists Riley, Elisburg, and Kammerer in all aspects of player personnel.
During Simon’s tenure, the Heat has been the G League’s most successful team, posting a 129-96 record and winning the 2016 championship. Simon received the NBA G League’s inaugural Executive of the Year Award for the 2015-16 season, when the team set the league’s single-season win record (40 in 50 games).
During that time, Simon and the Heat made several personnel moves that paid dividends, including acquiring Rodney McGruder in 2015.
According to the Heat media guide, “during his time as Assistant GM, Simon has played an integral role in Miami drafting Bam Adebayo, Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson and acquiring free agents Hassan Whiteside and Tyler Johnson to form the core of the current nucleus.”
Simon, a St. Thomas University graduate, is a member of the selection committee for the USA Senior National Team, which includes the 2017 AmeriCup and the World Cup qualifying teams.
“Adam is very capable, a hard worker, has good perspective on things,” Kammerer said. “A detailed kind of person.”
Riley, of course, continues to have final say on personnel — with Micky and Nick Arison providing direction on financial issues — but solicits opinions from the Arisons, Elisburg, and Spoelstra, while also valuing input from Kammerer, Simon, Heat director of basketball development and analytics Shane Battier, and Heat vice president of player programs and development Alonzo Mourning, among others.
As for Riley, the 73-year-old said in April that he has given no thought to retiring.
“There’s always something that brings you back in,” Riley said at his postseason news conference. “There’s something that sucks you back in. You could tell yourself in September, ‘This is my last year.’ But by the end of the season something happens that sucks you back in. ‘I can’t now. I’ve got to make the team better. We have free agency. I’ve got a draft pick. I can’t do this to Micky. I can’t do this.’ ”