Knicks seek more than $10M from Raptors in suit, stress Silver should not arbitrate

The Knicks are seeking more than $10 million in damages in their lawsuit against the Raptors, per Baxter Holmes of ESPN. The suit claims a former New York employee stole “proprietary” basketball-related information and brought it with him after being hired by Toronto.Adam Silver

As we relayed here, the Knicks have responded to the Raptors’ motion to dismiss the suit by seeking an arbitrator other than NBA commissioner Adam Silver. According to the Knicks, Silver is close with Raptors owner Larry Tanenbaum.

“The Knicks’ filing, which was obtained by ESPN, came in response to the Raptors’ Oct. 16 motion to dismiss the Knicks’ initial complaint and have Silver arbitrate the dispute,” Holmes wrote.

“In Monday’s filing, the Knicks also argued that Tanenbaum’s position as the chairman of the NBA’s board of governors would create a conflict of interest, as ‘Tanenbaum serves as Silver’s boss and exercises control over and heavily influences Silver’s continued employment and salary.’ Further, the Knicks pointed to a friendship between Silver and Tanenbaum.”

“Among other things, Tanenbaum has been described as ‘a close ally of Commissioner Adam Silver,'” the Knicks alleged, via Holmes. “Silver himself described Tanenbaum as ‘not just my boss as the chairman of the board of governors, but he’s very much a role model in my life.’ If Silver were to preside over the instant dispute, he would be arbitrating a case for his boss and ally.”

Multiple writers and outlets reported on the Knicks’ response before ESPN, including Fred Katz of The Athletic.

The Knicks filed a lawsuit against the Raptors in August, alleging that former Knicks employee Ikechukwu Azotam stole proprietary information and took it with him to Toronto. Azotam is now a video coordinator with the Raptors.

He is named in the lawsuit, as are Raptors coach Darko Rajakovic, development coach Noah Lewis and 10 John Does who have not yet been identified.

The Raptors issued a strong denial and asked a judge to dismiss the suit.

Meanwhile, Raptors head of basketball operations Masai Ujiri downplayed the suit when it first came to light.

“I think there has been one time in the history of the NBA that a team has sued another team,” he said. “Go figure.”

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