Reporter says everyone in NBA had same reaction to Knicks-Raptors lawsuit
The New York Knicks interrupted their relatively quiet offseason earlier this week with some courtroom drama. On Monday, the Knicks filed a lawsuit against the Toronto Raptors and several other defendants over alleged stolen information.
The lawsuit revolves around former Knicks employee Ikechukwu Azotam, who was allegedly funneling proprietary team information to his then-future employer — the Raptors. Before Azotam’s stint with the Knicks ended on August 14, he allegedly provided Raptors personnel with access to thousands of files such as scouting reports, film breakdowns, and the Knicks’ prep book for the 2022-23 season. You can read about the allegations in detail here.
More often than not, the NBA serves as the arbiter for such disputes in and around the league. However, the Knicks immediately went the legal route and named 14 total defendants, including Raptors head coach Darko Rajakovic and the team’s parent company, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, in the lawsuit.
While the league has remained silent on the Knicks-Raptors lawsuit, one reporter asserts that people who work for various NBA teams may potentially be leaning a certain way on the matter. The Athletic’s Seth Partnow made a recent appearance on the “Basketball Intelligence” podcast and shared his conversations with “dozens” of people with links to NBA front offices. According to Partnow, the “universal response” from those he’s talked to appears to be an indifference towards what the Raptors allegedly did wrong (19:58 mark).
“I’ve talked to a couple of dozen people who either currently or formerly worked for teams,” said Partnow. “The universal, universal response has been — ‘What’s the big deal?’ … It’s sort of the stuff that’s done in a matter of course, just in a particularly clumsy way, seems to be the general consensus in reaction, and pretty universal among the people I’ve talked to in and around those positions.”
Partnow, who previously served as the director of basketball research for the Milwaukee Bucks, further states that a lot of the game film that Azotam allegedly funneled was likely already accessible to the Raptors in the first place. Partnow points to the fact that all teams have access to the same Synergy Sports database to make their reports and analyses. The difference lies in the manner in which the Knicks packaged the data and also applied their analysis, which could allegedly be argued as proprietary information.
Azotam was the director of video, analytics, and player development for the Knicks before leaving for the Raptors in August.