Celtics rookie Grant Williams picks jersey number 40... for now

Celtics rookie Grant Williams picks jersey number 40... for now

BOSTON -- Forget about navigating the Turnpike or nailing the correct pronunciation of towns in Massachusetts like Peabody (It’s Pea-buh-dee, not Pea-Body). 

The biggest hurdle newcomers to the Boston Celtics face when they get here… finding a number that hasn’t been retired

Well, Celtics newcomer Grant Williams went with a Green Teamer — sort of — in choosing the jersey number 40. 

And no, it was not Williams paying homage to Dino Radja, Tony Battie, Joseph Forte or any of the previous players to don the No. 40 jersey for the Celtics. 

Instead, he picked number 40 because of six-time All-Star of Seattle Supersonics fame, Shawn Kemp.

“That’s kind of good; you can do worse than Shawn Kemp,” Williams said during an episode of NBC Sports Boston’s CelticsTalk Podcast. “It was between Shawn and Dirk.”

Williams has been around long enough to know how iconic jersey No. 41 will be. That's a number that will forever be linked with Dirk Nowitzki, who announced his retirement after this past season — his 21st in the NBA, all with the Dallas Mavericks, which is an NBA record for one player being with the same team. 

The 6-foot-7 Williams would love to have the jersey number 2 which he wore in high school as well as at Tennessee. 

But that number was retired in honor of the legendary Red Auerbach. 


Jersey No. 22 would have made sense, not only because of Williams’ connection with the number 2, but also because that’s where the Celtics selected him in the first round of Thursday night’s draft. 

But Williams soon discovered that number has also been retired, done so in honor of Ed Macauley. 

So after looking at players both in the present and in the past, Williams eventually picked Kemp’s No. 40 because, "it’s a number I can see on myself.”

But you might want to hold off on buying that Williams No. 40 jersey for a minute. 

Williams makes no guarantees that he’ll stick with the No. 40 going into the season. 

“We’ll be able to see what other numbers there are after summer league, after free agency,” Williams said. “Rookies, we get the last pick. But 40 is what I have right now.”

Remember, he has worn number 2 since high school.

Typically when players have to switch numbers, they do so by going with a number that’s similar in some fashion to their preferred number. 

So don’t be surprised if once the season gets here or we get past free agency, Williams is donning a No. 11 or No. 12 jersey that was worn last season by Kyrie Irving and Terry Rozier, respectively.

At least one of them (Irving most likely) will be gone next season. And while Boston can match any offer for Rozier, who becomes a restricted free agent after Boston’s qualifying offer, there’s no telling just how committed Boston is to bring him back. 

Those issues will work themselves out.

Meanwhile, Williams will do what most rookies do and that’s wait for his number to be called or in this instance, become available. 

Click here for the NBA's top free agents of 2019>>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

NBA Rumors: Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant won't play for Nets when season resumes

NBA Rumors: Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant won't play for Nets when season resumes

Since the NBA's suspended season has given Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant months to recover from their respective injuries, some believed they could return and make the Brooklyn Nets title contenders.

That theory was put to rest on Friday.

Durant confirmed to ESPN's Marc J. Spears he will not be returning to play when the NBA season resumes in Orlando, Fla. next month. As for Irving, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski says the former Boston Celtics guard suggested on Friday's NBPA conference call it's possible he could join the team... as an inactive player.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Celtics news and analysis

Durant missed the entire 2019-20 campaign after rupturing his Achilles tendon in last year's NBA Finals. Irving underwent surgery in March to repair an impingement in his right shoulder that ended his first season with the Nets after only 20 games.

Brooklyn currently holds the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference with a 30-34 record on the season.

Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck offers thoughts on NBA's 22-team return plan

Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck offers thoughts on NBA's 22-team return plan

On Thursday, the NBA announced a 22-team plan to resume the 2019-20 season in Orlando, Fla.

The plan passed by an overwhelming 29-1 vote among teams, with the Portland Trail Blazers as the only organization to vote against it. Boston Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck, obviously, was one of the many in favor of the plan and discussed why Friday on Felger & Mazz.

"The point that seemed the most fair is not to give a team that was lagging farther behind in the East, and that was for example [the Charlotte Hornets] who are seven games back," Grousbeck said. "In the history of the NBA, no one has ever come from seven games back at this point in the season. And so, it's more fair to say no, we can only take so many teams because of safety.

"We don't want to have 500 more people with all 30 teams. We'd just have more of a chance of getting shut down because of the virus. So there was a line to be drawn, and we all decided 29-1 that this was the most fair line."

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Celtics news and analysis

With safety as the No. 1 concern going forward, it's a no-brainer to limit the teams heading down to Walt Disney World to only the ones that can fight for a playoff spot.

Grousbeck also suggested that the Eastern Conference No. 1 seed Milwaukee Bucks could be the C's first opponent when the league returns to action. The Celtics were preparing for a matchup in Milwaukee when the season was suspended in mid-March.

"I think our first game is going to be Milwaukee, which that would be interesting," Grousbeck said. "Because that's what the schedule looks like just from the current schedule. We don't have the new schedule yet. But we'll probably start right off with Milwaukee."

The C's currently have the No. 3 seed in the East as they prepare to return to the court.

You can hear the rest of what Grousbeck had to say in the video above.