D'Angelo Russell was a restricted free agent this past summer, meaning the Brooklyn Nets, his former employer, had the right to match any offer he might've received on the open market in order to retain his services. But once the Nets signed Kevin Durant, Russell was no longer affordable, which effectively made him an unrestricted free agent who could've signed anywhere.
Russell obviously chose the Warriors, who were then able to engage in a sign-and-trade with Brooklyn for Durant, but one of the teams Russell was heavily considering was the Timberwolves, who reportedly were mutually interested.
Why did Russell choose the Bay Area over Minnesota? The opportunity to play for a championship franchise alongside Stephen Curry obviously played a role. But so did the Northern California weather. Per Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
"I thought the opportunity [with the Timberwolves] was amazing," Russell said after Warriors shoot-around Friday. "It was definitely something I was considering very strongly. But then when this opportunity [with the Warriors] came, the weather is way better, so that helped me."
It turns out the winter weather was more than a small talking point. Russell said it "for sure" played a significant role in his decision.
"I did my first winter in New York and that was tough," Russell said. "So to get the opportunity to go somewhere where it's warm again, I think that played a major part in my plan."
This is the part of major professional sports that always gets lost: The athletes are, you know, humans. Every time a free agent hits the market, all we can talk about is where said player has the best opportunity to win and it's all about the rings and the brand and the money. But real people factor in real things when they make life-altering decisions, and suffice it to say, the weather in which you're going to live is, you know, a real thing.
Imagine a normal person with a normal life. This person has two roughly equal job opportunities, that are going to pay the same money, in two different cities, one of which has comfortable-to-great weather year-round and one of which will freeze your nose off your face and is under snow half the year. Of course, the weather is going to factor into that decision unless that person has some kind of weird affinity for frostbite.
So that's the news here. D'Angelo Russell is a real person who had real concerns about traveling to work with chains on his tires. The end.