MINNEAPOLIS — The Knicks filed a response on Monday to the Toronto Raptors' motion to dismiss a lawsuit alleging theft of intellectual property by a former employee. The Knicks maintained their stance that the case against the Raptors should be settled in court, not by NBA commissioner Adam Silver.
The Knicks filed the lawsuit on Aug. 22 in the Southern District of New York against the Raptors, head coach Darko Rajakovic, and former Knicks scouting employee Ikechukwu Azotam, alleging a conspiracy to steal thousands of videos and other proprietary scouting secrets in July and August. Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Raptors, filed a motion last month to have the lawsuit dismissed or settled by an arbiter.
In a statement from a Madison Square Garden spokesperson on Monday, the Knicks claimed, “We were the victim of a theft of proprietary and confidential files, which is a clear violation of criminal and civil law, and we remain confident that the Court will decide in our favor in this matter.”
In the filing Monday, the Knicks contend that the case cannot be ruled on by the NBA for multiple reasons. The limit of a fine among teams is $10 million and the Knicks are seeking greater compensation and legal fees. And leaving the decision in the hands of Silver would be too close to the league's Board of Governors, which is led by Raptors minority owner Larry Tanenbaum.
“[Silver] is conflicted and does not have the ability to assign a replacement as Lead Arbitrator," the Knicks said in the filing. "Under the NBA Constitution, the NBA Board of Governors elects a Chairman. Larry Tanenbaum, a minority owner of the Raptors, has served as Chairman since 2017 and was most recently elected to the position in September of 2022.
"In practice, his elections have been performative. It is the NBA — led by Commissioner Silver — that handpicks the candidate for Chairman, a selection that is submitted by the league to the Board of Governors without an opposing nominee, thus leaving the Governors with no other option. In his capacity as Chairman, Tanenbaum serves as Silver’s boss and exercises control over and heavily influences Silver’s continued employment and salary . . . Tanenbaum and Silver also have a close relationship. Among other things, Tanenbaum has been described as ‘a close ally of the Commissioner.’ ”