According to Kutuhalasala Sutta (SN44.9), translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu:
Vacchagotta: "And at the moment when a being sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body, what do you designate as its sustenance then?"
Buddha: "Vaccha, when a being sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body, I designate it as craving-sustained, for craving is its sustenance at that time."
Alternative translation by Bhikkhu Bodhi here:
Vacchagotta: “And, Master Gotama, when a being has laid down this body but has not yet been reborn in another body, what does Master Gotama declare to be its fuel on that occasion?”
Buddha: “When, Vaccha, a being has laid down this body but has not yet been reborn in another body, I declare that it is fuelled by craving. For on that occasion craving is its fuel.”
In the Theravada tradition, the orthodox doctrine based on the Abhidhamma states that there is no intermediate state between births, that rebirth-linking consciousness instantaneously results in a new birth without any gaps.
However, the above sutta implies that it is possible to have an intermediate state that is sustained by craving.
So, my question is: does SN44.9 imply an intermediate state between births, or is there an alternative interpretation for it?