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Three coaches on hottest seats entering 2019-20 NBA season

Houston Rockets v Golden State Warriors - Game Five

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - MAY 08: Head coach Mike D’Antoni of the Houston Rockets stands on the side of the court during their game against the Golden State Warriors during Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at ORACLE Arena on May 08, 2019 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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This story is part of our’s 2019-20 NBA season preview coverage. Every day between now and when the season opens Oct. 22 we will have at least one story focused on the upcoming season and the biggest questions heading into it. In addition, there will be podcasts, video and more. Come back every day and get ready for a wide-open NBA season.

The 2016-17 season was a rarity: No coaches got fired. Since, three coaches have gotten fired each of the last two seasons.

Which three coaches are most likely to be fired during next season?

Mike D’Antoni (Rockets)

When D’Antoni rejected a contract extension, Rockets owner Tilman Ferttita said D’Antoni’s agent did Fertitta a favor because that’d make firing D’Antoni easier.

Maybe Fertitta worded that more harshly than intended. He has also praised D’Antoni and even predicted the coach would return in 2020.

But that sure sounded revealing.

D’Antoni is guiding a team with sky-high internal expectations, an upgraded roster and a clicking tock. James Harden and Russell Westbrook are a tricky fit. This job is a pressure cooker.

Complicating matters, D’Antoni is in the last year of his contract. In extension negotiations, the sides couldn’t even agree on what was offered. Lame-duck status alone isn’t enough to sink a season, but Houston players know that if they develop a problem with D’Antoni, they might be able to get him fired.

It sounds like Fertitta is already at least considering the possibility.

Frank Vogel (Lakers)

Vogel said he’s not worried about assistant coach Jason Kidd undermining him. Vogel said he feels supported by LeBron James.

Good luck with all that.

Vogel enters his first season with the Lakers facing threats from within – both below and above. Lakers management has a clear affinity for Kidd, who’s not against pursuing the Lakers’ occupied head-coaching position. LeBron is notoriously tricky to coach.

I thought Vogel was a good coach, but he was quite uninspiring with the Magic. He’ll have little margin for error in Los Angeles. The Lakers have championship expectations with LeBron, Anthony Davis and a better-fitting supporting cast. LeBron, 34, can’t afford to waste another season.

Vogel has a lot on his plate – managing stars, fitting together a mostly new rotation and fending off any desire to elevate Kidd. Slip in any area, and it could cost Vogel his job.

Luke Walton (Kings)

Walton is on this list for far more unfortunate reasons. In April, Kelli Tennant sued Walton for sexual assault and harassment. Walton denied the claims. The NBA and Kings investigated and found no wrongdoing.

However, Tennant refused to participate in the investigation. That allows the possibility for more information to emerge through her lawsuit, and that leaves open the possibility of Walton losing his job.