CHICAGO -- Although most of the names have changed, the uniform remains the same. They are still the Bulls, and they have huge targets on their chests.

That's certainly the talk around the league. Kick the Bulls while they're down, people are saying. So what if this 50-game season will forever be marked with an asterisk. Now that Phil Jackson, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman have gone their separate ways, the NBA's other 28 teams are going to enjoy themselves."Bulls is still written across the shirt," new coach Tim Floyd acknowledged, obviously having given the topic some thought. "There will probably be some people trying to send some messages early. Whether or not that's fair, I can't really answer that."

The first message could be sent as early as next Sunday, when the Bulls play the Indiana Pacers, their opponent in last season's Eastern Conference finals, in a 2 p.m. exhibition game at the United Center. The series went a grueling seven games, with coach Larry Bird's Pacers extending the Bulls farther than they'd gone in years.

When it was over Jackson, Jordan and Pippen all said it was the toughest series they had been involved in during the team's six title runs.

After coming within two minutes of the NBA Finals, the Pacers were one of the few teams to work out together during the lockout, reportedly at the urging of Reggie Miller and Mark Jackson.

The Pacers got a jump on the rest of the league, practicing together for almost six months. It's no coincidence that many experts are picking Indiana to supplant the Bulls in the East and possibly as NBA champions after the season begins next month.

The Pacers just might want to flex their muscles a bit against the drastically rebuilding Bulls. The two teams play another exhibition game in Indianapolis on Feb. 1.

Floyd, like it or not, finds himself running a team that made a lot of enemies while running roughshod over the league in winning the last three NBA Finals.

"The fact that I'm going to be part of paying for something that happened before I got here--you're darn right I'm concerned about it," Floyd said with a laugh.

It's not his main concern, though. Including Saturday's two sessions at the Berto Center, the Bulls have had only three practices as a group. More bodies made it to the floor on Saturday, with Roy Rogers, Martin Muursepp, Bubba Wells and Mark Bryant the latest players to sign with the team.

Floyd now has less than two weeks to get his new players acquainted with the triangle offense before the Bulls' season opener on Feb. 5 against the Utah Jazz. It won't be easy.

"There probably will be about 30 percent of the triangle incorporated by the time we get to Utah," Floyd said. "The four basic passes will probably be the extent of it."

Floyd likely will start veterans Ron Harper, Randy Brown, Bill Wennington, Dickey Simpkins and Toni Kukoc against the Pacers because they're most familiar with the triangle, along with Keith Booth, Matt Steigenga and Rusty LaRue. The newcomers can at least get a sense of how the system is run in a game situation.

"The most important thing is for us to introduce this triangle to these young guys," Brown said. "We want to go out there and have some type of team unity so we don't get embarrassed."

And the Pacers, no doubt, will try to embarrass the Bulls -- or what's left of them.