ST. FRANCIS — The chances of Luc Mbah a Moute being ready for the Milwaukee Bucks’ regular-season opener are becoming increasingly remote.
Mbah a Moute, unequivocally the team’s best and most versatile defender, has yet to practice with the team after undergoing offseason knee surgery.
The Bucks’ regular-season opener is Nov. 2 against the Celtics in Boston.
“I’m coming along; I’m feeling pretty good, feeling better every day,” Mbah a Moute said. “ I feel like I’m making a lot of progress, so I’m excited.
“But there’s no timetable to it. Really, it’s how strong the muscles around my knee get and whether they can sustain that strength around my knee throughout a game.
“But I have no idea when I’ll be back. It’s still up in the air.”
Obviously, the Bucks are hoping Mbah a Moute is back on the court sooner than later, especially because of his defensive presence.
Without Mbah a Moute on the floor, the Bucks could have one of the worst defensive starting lineups in the entire league.
Backcourt starters Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis have been defensively challenged throughout their careers while Tobias Harris, who has replaced Mbah a Moute in the starting lineup, is a sub-par perimeter defender.
The Bucks’ other forward, Ersan Ilyasova, is an excellent rebounder but hardly a shutdown man-to-man defender.
That leaves center Samuel Dalembert as the only above-average defensive player in the lot.
Mbah a Moute, who had never suffered a serious injury before, said he was “frustrated’’ about being sidelined.
“It’s been hard, but I’m doing what I’m supposed to do in the weight room to get to the level I need to be at,” Mbah a Moute said. “I can tell the muscles are getting stronger. That’s a good thing.
“But my right quad definitely has a ways to go to catch up to the left.”
Mbah a Moute said he’s eagerly looking forward to his next doctor’s appointment and find out where he stands.
“I’ll probably see the doctors sometime in the next two weeks,” Mbah a Moute said Tuesday after a Bucks’ workout at the Cousins Center.“And then I’ll get another assessment and see where we’re at.”
There probably wasn’t a happier person than Mike Dunleavy when the Bucks signed free-agent swingman Marquis Daniels last month.
Dunleavy and Daniels were teammates with the Indiana Pacers for three seasons from 2006-2009 and developed a great rapport.
“I didn’t know much about Marquis until I became a teammate of his in Indiana,” Dunleavy said. “Just a great guy. A hard worker. Professional.
“In this league, when you get around good teammates, that’s what it’s all about. That’s what you enjoy. It’s good to be reunited with him.”
Daniels said the feeling was mutual.
“There are a lot of good guys in this league, but Mike is a genuinely good guy,” said Daniels, who had drawn interest from several teams, including Portland Minnesota, before signing a one-year, $1.22 million contract with the Bucks. “We really got along in Indiana. Whenever I needed something, Mike was there to help me.”
Dunleavy is convinced Daniels, a 10-year pro who played last three seasons with Boston, can help the Bucks.
“When I heard we had picked him up, I didn’t realize he was out there (as a free agent),” Dunleavy said. “To me, he’s such a good player I couldn’t believe he was still available. So to be able to pick him up was great.
“He really knows the game; he plays on both ends. I think he’s somebody who can really help this team a lot this season.”
Speaking of good guys, Jason Staudt, who served the Bucks as a coach and video coordinator, has moved on to the Houston Rockets.
Staudt, a native of Lamesa, Texas who attended Texas Tech, will be the Rockets’ advanced scout.
Staudt spent seven seasons with the Bucks, working under head coaches Terry Stotts, Larry Krystkowiak and Scott Skiles.
Staudt is the second Bucks official to join the Rockets in the last two seasons. Last summer, former Bucks assistant coach Kelvin Sampson became the Rockets’ associate head coach.