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If Tom Thibodeau is gone, Bulls’ candidate list will be short

The Tom Thibodeau era is apparently coming to an end. Hard to believe the Bulls would cut loose a coach who won almost 65 percent of his games—second in franchise history to Phil Jackson (.738)—and who has four of the Bulls’ five playoff-series wins since the Michael Jordan days.

Still, the Bulls want to go into a different direction.

Considering the breakup has been a longtime coming, the Bulls likely have their sights set on a candidate … or two.

With Thibodeau owed $9 million over the next two seasons, don’t expect the stingy Bulls to just dump him. They’ll probably try to get something in return via trade and ship him somewhere where he can’t come back to haunt them (think New Orleans).

So, let’s see who’s out there:

Fred Hoiberg: The Iowa State coach seemed to be the prohibitive leader until a heart setback last month. An early exit from the NCAA Tournament by his Cyclones probably didn’t help, but the job still seems to be his for the taking. Hoiberg played for the Bulls, has ties to president John Paxson and GM Gar Forman and, unlike Thibs, would be a “team player.” He would also bring more of an offensive approach, one of Thibs’ perceived shortcomings.

Downside: The last time the Bulls dipped into the college ranks for a coach, he came from Iowa State. Tim Floyd produced a .205 win percentage during three seasons.

Adrian Griffin: Longtime favorite of Bulls’ front office as a player and assistant coach. Has put in his time and is head-coach ready. Gets along well with the players. Was part of the staff for USA Basketball this summer, working with Thibodeau and Derrick Rose.

Downside: Strong ties to Thibodeau and former Bulls coach Scott Skiles could play against him.

Alvin Gentry: Experienced head coach has had stints with the Heat, Pistons, Clippers and Suns that produced a .475 winning percentage and two playoff-series wins with the Suns in 2010. Is currently Steve Kerr’s right-hand man with the Warriors. One report says if Hoiberg opts to stay at Iowa State, Gentry gets the job.

Downside: The 60-year-old coach has little playoff experience, so what makes Bulls think he can take a built-to-win-now team deep into the playoffs.