Knicks suing Raptors over former employee allegedly taking proprietary information, per report

The New York Knicks have sued the Toronto Raptors and several members of their organization, according to SNY’s Ian Begley. At the center of the suit is former Knicks employee Ikechukwu Azotam, whom Toronto began recruiting in June and ultimately hired this offseason. The suit alleges that Azotam “illegally procured and disclosed proprietary information” from the Knicks upon leaving the team and shared that information with the Raptors.

“These files include confidential information such as play frequency reports, a prep book for the 2022-23 season, video scouting files and materials and more,” according to a statement issued to Begley. “Given the clear violation of our employment agreement, criminal and civil law, we were left no choice but to take this action.”

Azotam, a former assistant video coordinator for the Knicks who held multiple positions between 2020-23, started getting recruited by Toronto in June and informed the Knicks that he was offered a position in July, according to Begley. The lawsuit alleges that he “conspired to use Azotam’s position as a current Knicks insider to funnel proprietary information to the Raptors to help them organize, plan, and structure the new coaching and video operations staff” under first-time head coach Darko Rajakovic.

Begley reported that the suit claims that the Raptors “directed Azotam to misuse his access to the Knicks’ subscription to Synergy Sports to create and then transfer to the Raptors over 3,000 files consisting of film information and data.'” Synergy Sports is a video and analytics tool frequently used by both teams and media companies (including CBS Sports).

Following the report, the Raptors released this statement:

“MLSE and the Toronto Raptors received a letter from MSG on Thursday of last week bringing this complaint to our attention. 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.”

Typically, disputes between teams are handled internally within the league. However, due to the possible legal violations at play here, the Knicks seemingly believe that what allegedly happened here exceeds the scope of league discipline and needs court intervention.