The Toronto Raptors have filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed against the organization and various members of their coaching staff by the New York Knicks in August. In their filing, which was obtained by CBS Sports, the Raptors dismiss the suit as “baseless” and call it a “public relations stunt” by the Knicks.
Back in August, the Knicks sued the Raptors, along with new head coach Darko Rajakovic, player development coach Noah Lewis and head of video and assistant player development coach Ikechukwu Azotam, who is at the center of the Knicks’ suit.
Azotam previously worked for the Knicks from 2020-23, and is accused of using his position to steal “proprietary information,” including “play frequency reports, a prep book for the 2022-23 season, video scouting files and materials and more” before joining the Raptors. The Knicks allege that Azotam did so under the direction of Rajakovic and others in order to help the first-year head coach “organize, plan, and structure the new coaching and video operations staff.”
All such claims were denied by the Raptors, both at the time of the Knicks’ suit and in their recent motion. Here is more from the Raptors’ filing:
The fact that the Knicks elected to commence their action in this forum despite the overwhelming infirmities of this lawsuit and the inability of the Court to grant the Knicks prompt relief can only be explained by a concern that pursuit of their claims in the proper forum would receive no public attention and would be denied by the NBA Commissioner.
The Knicks’ conduct from the outset of this dispute leaves no doubt that their goal has been to elicit negative press attention against the Named Defendants rather than the pursuit of valid claims.
While the Raptors’ filing does admit that Azotam used his Knicks credentials to obtain files while waiting for his Raptors credentials, it asserts that he would have had access to the exact same information with his Raptors’ credentials.
“These were not the Knicks’ team and player statistics, play frequency data, player tendencies or play calls,” the filing states. “But rather those of other NBA teams — including particularly the Raptors’ own game film — compiled from video of their games accessible to all NBA teams (and, indeed, the general public). In other words, they were far from confidential, let alone trade secrets.”
Rajakovic also addressed the lawsuit during the Raptors’ media day earlier this month. “I was surprised,” he said. “I was shocked. I did not know where it was coming from. What I can say is, I know who I am. I know how my parents raised me. I know what I see every single day when I look in the mirror. I know that there’s nothing that I should be worried about. And I cannot wait for this lawsuit to be over so everybody can find the truth.”
In a statement provided to ESPN on Monday, MSG defended the lawsuit.
“As we have previously stated, given the theft of proprietary and confidential files and clear violation of criminal and civil law, we were left no choice but to take this to federal court and are confident the judicial system will agree.”