Steinmetz: Nelson among NBA coaches on the hot seat

Milwaukee Brewers manager Ned Yost gets fired in the middle of a pennant race. Raiders coach Lane Kiffin isn’t expected to last the year, let alone the week.

In pro sports, it’s never too early to start thinking about firing the coach.

With that in mind, we bring you 10 NBA coaches on the hot seat heading into the 2008-09 season.

George Karl, Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets are the likeliest team to implode this season. They lost Marcus Camby, their anchor in the middle, and dirty-work guy Eduardo Najera. They already were bad defensively. And Allen Iverson is another year older.

Mike Brown, Cleveland Cavaliers. His job status is predicated on one thing and one thing only: His relationship with LeBron James. Relationships can be fickle.

P.J. Carlesimo, Oklahoma City Thunder. Carlesimo almost didn’t make it to OKC, and it’s not likely he’ll coach all 82 this season. Too bad for him, but the Sonics or the Thunder, it really doesn’t matter: Either team is lousy.

Randy Wittman, Minnesota Timberwolves. It helps when one of your best friends (Kevin McHale) is also your boss. Wittman’s career NBA coaching record is 96-192, and by all rights you should see smoke coming out from underneath him on the bench.

Mike Woodson, Atlanta Hawks. Woodson almost didn’t survive this summer despite it being a relatively successful year for the Hawks (first-round playoff loss to the Boston Celtics). But there are whispers some players are down on Woodson, with the most notable being Josh Smith.

Lawrence Frank, New Jersey Nets. Frank has done a nice job in Jersey despite the team’s deliberate, fan-unfriendly style. Still, facts are facts and Frank is entering his sixth year as the Nets’ coach. Anyone who follows the NBA knows that’s getting near the limit.

Jim  O’Brien, Indiana Pacers. If he’s not on the hot seat, he should be — an awful year for the Pacers in 2007-08.

Mark Iavaroni, Memphis Grizzlies. It doesn’t bode well for you when management makes it known that it is assessing your job status. That’s what the Grizzlies’ front office did before deciding to go with Iavaroni for 2008-09. For how long?

Mike Dunleavy, Los Angeles Clippers. Despite the departure of Elton Brand, owner Donald Sterling clearly believes the Clippers should be a playoff team — most of all because of the addition of Baron Davis. That translates into pressure for Dunleavy.

Don Nelson, Warriors. Any way you cut it, Nelson is heading into an extremely challenging year, he’s tilting toward 70 and, as of right now, doesn’t have a contract for 2009-10. It certainly wouldn’t be a shocking development if, for whatever reason, Nellie didn’t finish out the season.

Matt Steinmetz is the NBA insider for Warriors telecasts on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. E-mail him at msteinmetz@sfexaminer.com.

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