The Knicks have responded to a motion filed by the Raptors that sought to dismiss New York’s lawsuit against them, Stefan Bondy of the New York Post reports. The Knicks are seeking more than $10MM in their lawsuit and have also dragged commissioner Adam Silver’s name into the dispute between the Atlantic Division clubs.
The Knicks argued that the court system should handle the matter, rather than the NBA, because of Silver’s allegedly tight relationship with Toronto minority owner Larry Tanenbaum.
Tanenbaum is currently the NBA’s Chairman of the Board of Governors.
The Knicks wrote in their 24-page response on Monday, “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,” ESPN’s Baxter Holmes tweets.
The Knicks also inferred that Tanenbaum was handpicked by Silver as Chairman, Bondy adds.
The lawsuit stems from their allegations that Ikechukwu Azotam, a former Knicks video coordinator, stole scouting and analytics secrets – including files containing “over 3,000 videos” – and gave them to the Raptors after he was hired by their organization. Azotam and Raptors coach Darko Rajakovic were also named in the suit.
In the motion to dismiss, Toronto called the lawsuit “baseless” and “a public relations stunt” by the Knicks. The Raptors also wrote that the dispute should be handled by Silver instead of a federal judge, pursuant to a bylaw in the NBA’s constitution that reads, “The Commissioner shall have exclusive, full, complete, and final jurisdiction of any dispute involving two (2) or more Members of the Association.”
The Knicks also claim that since their damages exceed $10MM, which is more than NBA can penalize a team, the courts should handle the case rather than the league office, Mike Vornukov of The Athetic tweets.