Before his team hosted the New York Knicks on Friday, first-year Toronto Raptors head coach Darko Rajakovic stressed he had no concerns about the lawsuit filed against the organization by New York for allegedly stealing thousands of confidential files.
“We explained what happened or what did not happen. I know who I am, I know my integrity, I know who I represent,” Rajakovic said during pre-game media availability, per Stefan Bondy of the New York Post. “…I’m really looking forward for this to be solved and everybody to find out the truth. I’ve got nothing to worry about.”
In August, the Knicks filed a complaint against the Raptors in the U.S. District Court of Manhattan alleging that former team employee Ikechukwu Azotam sent thousands of private basketball files to the Raptors when they began recruiting him to join the organization early last summer. The Knicks accuse Azotam, who initially worked for them as an assistant video coordinator before transitioning to another role that encompassed video, analytics and player development, of violating a confidentiality clause in his employment agreement.
New York claims Toronto “directed Azotam's actions and/or knowingly benefited from Azotam's wrongful acts,” per ESPN's Baxter Holmes. Rajakovic, as well as Azotam, and 10 other “unknown” employees were named in the Knicks' suit.
Toronto called New York's actions “baseless” and a “public relations stunt” in an October 16th filing, roughly three weeks after team president Masai Ujiri addressed the suit by noting this instance marks the “one time” an NBA franchise has sued another in the league's history.
In a November 20th court filing, the Knicks said they're seeking $10 million in damages from Toronto and argued that NBA commissioner Adam Silver should recuse himself from arbitrating the dispute because of his purportedly close relationship with Larry Tanenbaum, chairman of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Raptors. New York's motion came in response to Toronto's October 16th filing to dismiss the suit and have the league adjudicate the conflict.
Knicks beat Raptors as both teams focus on basketball
The Knicks beat the Raptors 119-106 at Scotiabank Arena behind a balanced offensive attack and strong team-wide defensive effort. Jalen Brunson scored a team-high 22 points for New York, which had five players score at least 15 points.
Toronto, meanwhile, couldn't get out of the mud offensively despite a superlative effort from rising star Scottie Barnes, who went 13-of-19 from the field for 29 points while stuffing the stat sheet with nine rebounds, four assists and five steals. An improved shooter this season, Barnes went 3-of-7 from deep, accounting for half his team's long balls as the Raptors shot just 18.8% on three-pointers.
Before the game, Azotam, Toronto's head video coordinator and a player development coach, could be seen by reporters embracing his former Knicks colleagues. Tom Thibodeau wasn't interested in addressing the matter prior to opening tip, either.
Obviously I can’t comment on that,” New York coach said, per the NY Post. “It’s a legal matter.”