Knicks suing Raptors over ex-employee illegally procuring, disclosing proprietary information

General view of Knicks MSG court / USA TODAY

The Knicks have sued the Toronto Raptors and several members of their organization, including a former Knicks employee, for taking proprietary information, SNY has learned.

A statement from an MSG spokesperson added that the lawsuit was filed after the ex-employee “illegally took thousands of proprietary files with him to his new position” 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 the statement. “Given the clear violation of our employment agreement, criminal and civil law, we were left no choice but to take this action.”

According to a source, the Knicks reached out to the Raptors and NBA about the issue before filing the lawsuit.

“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 and the Raptors said in a statement. “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.”

The lawsuit names Ikechukwu Azotam as the former Knicks employee who “illegally procured and disclosed proprietary information” to members of the Raptors, including new head coach Darko Rajakovic and other members of the coaching staff.

The suit alleges that Azotam signed an agreement as a Knicks employee with a “confidentiality clause requiring him to maintain the secrecy of all confidential or proprietary Knicks information.”

Per the lawsuit, Azotam, who worked for the Knicks as an assistant video coordinator and then as a director of video/analytics/player development assistant from 2020-23, was recruited to work for the Raptors in or around June of this year. With Rajakovic serving as a first time head coach, the lawsuit claims the Raptors “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.”

Azotam informed the Knicks of an offer to work for the Raptors in July, at which time he began “secretly forwarding proprietary information from his Knicks email account to his personal Gmail account, which he then shared with the Raptors Defendants. These materials included scouting reports, play frequency reports, a prep book, and a link to third-party licensed software,” the lawsuit reads.

This is a developing story. More to come…

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