The New York Knicks filed a lawsuit against the Toronto Raptors on Monday which alleges head coach Darko Rajakovic for tapping a former Knicks employee who breached the team’s confidential basketball contents and materials.
The Knicks accused their ex-video coordinator Ikechukwu Azotam of illegally bringing “thousands” of play and scouting data with him to the Raptors. Azotam was called up by Rajakovic to become a member of his Toronto coaching staff this offseason.
New York noted 14 defendants which included Raptors’ parent company Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, Rajakovic, Azotam, and player development mentor Noah Lewis.
“Defendant Rajakovic and the other Raptor Defendants recruited and used Azotam to serve as a mole within the Knicks organization to convey information that would assist the Raptors Defendants in trying to manage their team,” the lawsuit stated, via BasketNews.
The lawsuit went on to describe Rajakovic as a “novice” coach who needed a pattern to build his own organizational structure and coaching method due to his unusual path towards a head coaching career. The Knicks further alleged he and other defendants of instructing Azotam to “funnel proprietary information to the Raptors” to build their new coaching staff.
Rajakovic replaced Nick Nurse as the latest head coach of the Raptors. He was hired by the club back in June after spending years as an assistant under Taylor Jenkins’ staff in the Memphis Grizzlies.
For its part, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment expressed its surprise at the filing of the lawsuit and denied the allegations made by the Knicks.
“MLSE and the Toronto Raptors received a letter from MSG on Thursday of last week bringing this complaint to our attention,” MLSE said in a statement. “MLSE responded promptly, making clear our intention to conduct an internal investigation and to fully cooperate.”
“MLSE has not been advised that a lawsuit was being filed or has been filed following its correspondence with MSG. The company strongly denies any involvement in the matters alleged. MLSE and the Toronto Raptors will reserve further comment until this matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of both parties.”