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Jalen Green officially switches to No. 4 jersey, Jabari Smith Jr. takes No. 1

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Throughout his pre-NBA playing days, Jalen Green wore a No. 4 jersey and even earned the “JG4” nickname. However, that number was not available when he joined the Rockets in the 2021 offseason. At the time, it belonged to veteran forward Danuel House Jr., who cited personal family reasons for wanting to keep the number.

Even prized rookies like Green, who was drafted at No. 2 in the 2021 first round, typically show deference to veterans in such situations.

House was released last December, but that’s not among the limited circumstances in which the NBA would allow a player to change numbers midway through a season. Thus, Green had to wait. But when the 2022-23 league year began Friday, that No. 4 jersey became available, and Green and the Rockets wasted no time in making it official.

“Yeah, I’m for sure (switching jersey numbers),” Green said after last season’s final game. “I need my number back, for sure.”

With No. 0 available, rookie guard TyTy Washington will be taking it. In conjunction with Green’s jersey news, the Rockets announced numbers for their three 2022 first-round picks — No. 1 for Jabari Smith Jr. (picked third overall), No. 17 for Tari Eason (No. 17 pick), and No. 0 for Washington (No. 29 pick). Eason wore the No. 13 jersey at LSU, but the Rockets have already committed to retiring that for James Harden.

It’s unclear if Smith plans to keep No. 1 on a longer-term basis. He wore the No. 10 jersey at Auburn, which could become available whenever the tenure of veteran guard Eric Gordon eventually comes to an end. At that time, perhaps Smith opts to follow the Green-House parallel.

But at least for now, Smith takes the No. 1 jersey, which only opened up after John Wall’s contract buyout became official this week.

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