Why these three NBA coaches are on the hot seat

Being an NBA head coach is a challenging job. 

Just ask Tyronn Lue, who — after helping lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to three consecutive Finals and one of the most stunning championships in modern sports history — was let go last week following an 0-6 start. 

He was the league's first head coach to be fired during the 2018-19 campaign, and odds are he won't be the last. 

With the season three weeks old, USA TODAY looks at three coaches who could suffer a similar fate.

Scott Brooks, Washington Wizards

The Wizards are a much better basketball team than their 2-7 record suggests. From John Wall down to Jeff Green, the talent — and the potential to be a top-four team in the Eastern Conference — is there. So far, though, this group has been a trainwreck, off to a better start than just two teams (Chicago and Cleveland), and it ranks 26th and 25th in the league in offensive and defensive rating, respectively. 

Brooks, who inked a five-year, $35 million deal with Washington in 2016, may have a little more leeway than some other head coaches in the league, but he's not immune to getting the boot. The time to turn this thing around is now.

The bright side? Adding a healthy Dwight Howard to the mix should give the Wizards a boost on both ends of the floor, and the upcoming schedule — Dallas, Orlando (twice), Miami, Cleveland and Brooklyn — could help spark a turnaround. 

Luke Walton, Los Angeles Lakers

Magic Johnson said Sunday that Walton's job is safe, telling the Los Angeles Times that he's "going to finish the season" unless "something drastic happens, which it won't."

Time will tell. With the spotlight in Laker Land shining bright, all eyes will be on Walton to help right the ship. The Lakers are 4-6 since LeBron James came to town, and they've struggled in late-game situations. Much of that can be attributed to the array of new faces on the roster and the lack of experience of many of the team's young players, but Walton isn't blameless for the team's slow start. 

The pressure isn't going anywhere. How will Walton respond?

Tom Thibodeau, Minnesota Timberwolves

As both head coach and president of basketball operations for the Timberwolves, Thibodeau is feeling the pressure from multiple angles. Wolves owner Glen Taylor told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune before the start of the season that Thibodeau is a "good coach" and that he has faith in him, but with the Jimmy Butler saga still looming, his seat appears to be getting hotter by the day.

The Timberwolves, who under Thibodeau snapped their 13-year playoff drought last season, are off to a 4-6 start, and Butler has sat out three of those games. Franchise cornerstones Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, meanwhile, have struggled with consistency, and the Wolves have a net rating of minus-6.9 (24th in the NBA) — a massive dip from last season (plus-2.2; 10th in the NBA). 

To make matters worse, it seems as though Wolves fans — who have booed Thibodeau during pregame introductions and created a change.org petition calling for Thibodeau's firing — have had enough. 

Follow Neuharth-Keusch on Twitter @tweetajnk

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