John Salmons closes in on return

Columbus, Ohio - John Salmons was on the court taking some shots before the Bucks' exhibition game against Cleveland on Thursday night, and Bucks coach Scott Skiles said the veteran guard might be able to return to the lineup Friday against Minnesota.

"He's doing better," Skiles said. "We might do something with him tomorrow in the morning a little bit, we might do some 2-on-2 live. Then maybe play him a little bit in the game (Friday)."

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (sprained right ankle) and Corey Maggette (left ankle surgery) were ruled out of the game against the Cavaliers, Skiles said. Jon Brockman (sprained left ankle) was not with the team.

Skiles said the Bucks starters would be Carlos Delfino and Drew Gooden at forwards, Andrew Bogut at center and Chris Douglas-Roberts and Brandon Jennings at guards.

Cleveland's Mo Williams was at the team's morning shootaround at the Schottenstein Center on the Ohio State campus. But the former Bucks player had to leave due to personal reasons and was not available for the game, according to Cavaliers coach Byron Scott.

The Cavaliers issued a statement saying Williams had been excused from the team to accompany his family to Mississippi due to the death of his father-in-law.

Another former Bucks guard, Ramon Sessions, moved into the starting lineup in place of Williams.

The Cavaliers (5-2) are trying to forge a new identity in the absence of LeBron James, who jolted the franchise and the city of Cleveland with his off-season move to Miami.

"They've got a nice mix of young players and good veteran players," Skiles said. "Obviously it's very difficult losing a player of that caliber, to say the least.

"But there's guys down there that have pride. It wouldn't surprise me at all if they have a very good year."

Skiles knows something about being underestimated after the Bucks went from 34 victories to 46 last season.

"It's human nature to think that losing LeBron is a death blow or something," Skiles said. "But these guys are all pros up here."

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