Sean Pendergast

Tad Brown's Departure From Rockets Typifies Massive Houston Sports Turnover

Astros manager Dusty Baker was hired 15 months ago, and he is now one of the most tenured sports leaders in town.
Astros manager Dusty Baker was hired 15 months ago, and he is now one of the most tenured sports leaders in town. Photo by Jack Gorman
In early November 2019, just days after the Astros lost in seven games in the World Series, despite whatever downtrodden feelings we still held about the end of that series, Houston sports was in a pretty good place. The Astros were, at worst, the second best team in baseball. The Texans were 6-3 and flying home from a 26-3 win over the Jags in London. Finally, the Rockets were just getting started on an eight game November winning streak.

Times were good, foundations were solid, and we would count our wins and, good lord willing, our rings in the years to come. Well, needless to say, that plan has fallen apart, as the Astros struggle to get off to a .500 start to the season, the Rockets and the Texans have taken their act to exceedingly soul crushing depths. There is a legitimate argument that each is the worst team in its respective sport.

When there is failure, there is turnover. Turnover everywhere. Rosters, coaching, upper management, all of it. However, I don't know that any of us would have anticipated the turnover we've seen in Houston since that first week of November.

In any sports organization, there are three people in management who are front-facing and well known by the fan base — manager/head coach, general manager, and whoever heads up the business side (titles range from "CEO" like Tad Brown was with the Rockets, to "President" like Greg Grissom, currently, with the Texans, to "Sr. VP of Executive Operations" like Jared Crane, currently, with the Astros).

Well, since November 7, 2019, all nine of those spots across the three major teams in town have now turned over, with Tad Brown stepping aside as CEO of the Rockets over the weekend. Here are the capsules on each of the nine positions, in chronological order of the current hire:

HOUSTON ASTROS, Sr. VP of Executive Operations
CURRENT (w/ date of hire):
JARED CRANE (November 7, 2019)
PREVIOUS: REID RYAN (reassigned)
STORY: Ryan was reassigned within the Astros organization shortly after the 2019 postseason ended. He was given an advisory role, but eventually left to focus on his other business, and his father, the legendary Nolan Ryan, also stepped away from his association with the Astros, as well. Jared Crane is the son of owner Jim Crane.

CURRENT (w/ date of hire):
DUSTY BAKER (January 29, 2020)
STORY: Hinch was fired in the wake of the sign stealing scandal, and owner Jim Crane settled on the steady veteran hand of Baker, who is now managing his fifth team in his big league managing career, and first team in the American League. Hinch is back in baseball, managing the Detroit Tigers, who swept the Astros earlier this month.

HOUSTON ASTROS, General manager
CURRENT (w/ date of hire): JAMES CLICK (February 3, 2020)
STORY: Like Hinch, Luhnow was also relieved of his duties because of the sign stealing scandal, but unlike Hinch, Luhnow has not resurfaced in baseball.

HOUSTON ROCKETS, General manager
CURRENT (w/ date of hire):
RAFAEL STONE (October 15, 2020)
DARYL MOREY (resigned)
STORY: Morey resigned form his position back in October. At first, he talked about spending more time with his family, but his family must have gotten sick of him quickly, because just a couple weeks after leaving Houston, Morey signed on as President of Basketball Operations with the Philadelphia Sixers.

CURRENT (w/ date of hire):
STEPHEN SILAS (October 28, 2020)
MIKE D'ANTONI (contract expired)
STORY: Mike seemed destined to walk away from the Rockets for most of the last couple seasons of his run here, and he did just that after the postseason in the Orlando bubble ended. Silas is considered one of the bright young coaching minds, but it's been a rough run in his rookie season as a head coach, including a 4-33 stretch over the last 37 games.

HOUSTON TEXANS, General manager
CURRENT (w/ date of hire):
NICK CASERIO (January 5, 2021)
BILL O'BRIEN (fired)
STORY: The third time was the charm for Cal McNair, who had pursued Caserio twice before, in both 2018 and 2019, after Rick Smith and Brian Gaine were let go, respectively. Now Caserio has a herculean rebuilding task on his hands, thanks to the disastrous decision making by Bill O'Brien.

CURRENT (w/ date of hire): DAVID CULLEY (January 28, 2021)
BILL O'BRIEN (fired)
A virtual unknown to most fans around the league prior to being hired by the Texans, Culley is a fairly big mystery, having never even been a coordinator in over three decades of coaching. For what it's worth, he seems like a very nice man. That's all I got.

HOUSTON TEXANS, Team president
CURRENT (w/ date of hire): GREG GRISSOM (March 24, 2021)
STORY: Rootes resigned from his role as longtime president of the team earlier this year when, ostensibly, it appeared that owner Cal McNair has sided with Jack Easterby over Rootes and the Korn Ferry search firm in their search for a new general manager.

CURRENT (w/ date of hire): TBD
STORY: According to Brown, the team will be announcing a succession plan soon, as the Rockets transition from a very successful era from a business and basketball standpoint on Brown's watch.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at and like him on Facebook at
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast