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Report: Bulls want a replacement coach before they talk compensation for letting Tom Thibodeau out of his contract

Cleveland Cavaliers v Chicago Bulls - Game Six

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 14: Head coach Tom Thibodeau of the Chicago Bulls talks to referee Marc Davis #8 in the first quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2015 NBA Playoffs at United Center on May 14, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. 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 Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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The Bulls seemingly planned to dump Tom Thibodeau and hire Fred Hoiberg.

If they did, it won’t go seamlessly.

Hoiberg is reportedly leery of an NBA jump after his health issues, which makes Warriors assistant coach Alvin Gentry a key candidate in Chicago.

What does that mean for Thibodeau and the teams pursuing him (Pelicans and Magic)?

Ken Berger of

In fact, multiple league sources told Friday that the Bulls’ front office isn’t even compelled to engage in compensation talks with any teams that are interested in their coach until they have a commitment from a replacement who excites them, multiple league sources told

Atop that list is Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg, who league sources say would check all the boxes for the Bulls, including fixing the team’s inconsistent -- and against the Cavs in Game 6, ineffective -- offense. But with Hoiberg only two years into a 10-year, $20 million deal with the Cyclones -- and with strong family roots in Ames and having undergone recent heart procedures -- there is strong doubt among NBA front office sources that he’d be inclined to make the jump.

But sources say Gentry -- and anyone else not named Hoiberg -- will have to pass a difficult litmus test that includes not only being the right fit, but also dynamic enough to justify letting Thibodeau out of his deal.

There’s probably a degree of bluffing from the Bulls, who have Thibodeau under contract for two more seasons. Even if they really want to ditch him – and it seems they do – it’s in their best interest to convince other teams they might keep him. That way, teams that want Thibodeau will offer more compensation.

Chicago has time to play this out – at least as long as New Orleans and Orlando are willing to wait for Thibodeau. If the Bulls don’t find a coach who excites them soon, the Pelicans and Magic could accelerate this process by widening their coaching searches.