New York Knicks sue Toronto Raptors for stealing scouting reports, trade secrets

By Blake Brittain

(Reuters) – The National Basketball Association’s New York Knicks sued rivals the Toronto Raptors in Manhattan on Monday, accusing the Raptors’ new coaching staff of hiring a “mole” who gave the team their scouting reports and other confidential material.

The Knicks accused their former video, analytics and player-development assistant Ikechukwu Azotam, who left the team last week, of stealing thousands of proprietary files and forwarding them to the Raptors.

Representatives for the Raptors did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A spokesperson for the Knicks’ parent company MSG Sports said that “given the clear violation of our employment agreement, criminal and civil law, we were left no choice but to take this action.”

The Raptors hired Darko Rajakovic, previously an assistant coach with the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies, as their head coach in June.

“As a first time NBA head coach, Defendant Rajakovic would be expected to bring his own organizational structure and coaching method,” said the Knicks’ lawsuit, which names Rajakovic, Azotam and several unidentified Raptors employees as defendants.

“Apparently, given his non-traditional path to his head coaching job, Defendant Rajakovic did not have his own, so he chose to exploit the Knicks’ methods,” it said.

The Knicks first hired Azotam as a video coordinator in 2020. The lawsuit said Azotam was recruited by the Raptors starting in June and told the Knicks he had received a job offer from them in late July.

According to the lawsuit, Azotam began sending confidential information to the Raptors around the same time, including details about the Knicks’ organizational structure, reports on opponents’ plays and tendencies, and game films edited by its scouting team.

The Knicks requested an unspecified amount of damages and asked the court to permanently block the Raptors and Azotam from misusing their trade secrets.

(Reporting by Blake Brittain in Washington, Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Rosalba O’Brien)