In a blistering court filing Monday night obtained by ESPN, the Toronto Raptors fired back at the most recent claims made by the New York Knicks in the ongoing lawsuit between the two teams concerning the alleged theft of thousands of confidential files, with the Raptors accusing the Knicks of dragging out the case "as long as possible because this lawsuit attracts publicity and is directed at harming the Raptors, its head coach and members of his staff."

For the first time, the Raptors also stated that once this dispute is resolved, the defendants named in the lawsuit -- which include several Toronto staffers, including coach Darko Rajaković -- reserved the right to pursue legal action against the Knicks for defamatory public statements, including accusing them of committing "clear violation of criminal and civil law."

Further, the Raptors again asked the U.S. District Court in Manhattan to compel arbitration by NBA commissioner Adam Silver and to dismiss the Knicks' claims -- both points that the Knicks have rejected multiple times but most pointedly in their Nov. 20 filing.

In that Nov. 20 filing, the Knicks argued that Silver couldn't arbitrate the dispute in part because the Knicks were seeking more than $10 million in damages -- and Article 24 of the NBA's constitution states that the commissioner cannot issue a penalty of more than $10 million. The Knicks also referenced Silver's relationship with Raptors governor Larry Tanenbaum as a potential conflict of interest.

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On Monday, the Raptors responded to that point.

"The NBA Commissioner is not biased and he is the best person to adjudicate this dispute because of his ability to identify what, if any, information is confidential and proprietary such that its misuse may harm a Member like the Knicks," the Raptors wrote. "The Knicks' aversion to his jurisdiction is simply because they know they will not like his determination. Although it is inevitable the Knicks' claims will fail on the merits in any forum, this proceeding permits the Knicks to keep their allegations in the public media, causing harm to the Named Defendants."

The Raptors added, "Akin to a coach bemoaning an injury to his star player even before the game, the Knicks seek to excuse their inevitable loss on the merits by attacking the integrity of the NBA Commissioner."

The Knicks didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The original complaint, filed in August, accused former Knicks employee Ikechukwu Azotam, who worked for the Knicks from 2020 to 2023, of sending the Raptors thousands of confidential files -- including play-frequency reports, a prep book for the 2022-23 season, video scouting files, opposition research and more -- after the team began recruiting him to join their organization in the summer of 2023.

The Knicks also accused Azotam -- who worked for them as an assistant video coordinator then as a director of video/analytics/player development assistant -- of violating a confidentiality clause in an employment agreement and alleged that members of the Raptors "directed Azotam's actions and/or knowingly benefited from Azotam's wrongful acts."

Further, the Knicks alleged that 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," the lawsuit states.

Rajaković, player development coach Noah Lewis and 10 "unknown" Raptors employees also were listed as defendants in the Knicks' lawsuit.

"The Knicks' allegation of a sweeping conspiracy among Defendants to steal the Knicks' proprietary trade secrets is false," the Raptors wrote in Monday's filing. "Coach Rajaković -- with nearly 15 years' experience as a head coach overseas and in the NBA's G-League and another decade as an assistant coach in the NBA -- never needed, wanted, or saw a single piece of Knicks' proprietary information. Nor did Azotam ever share any proprietary Knicks information. The Knicks would have learned this if had they accepted the Raptors' offer to cooperate in an investigation instead of immediately filing this suit."

In an Oct. 16 filing, the Raptors called the Knicks' lawsuit "baseless" and a "public relations stunt" while also calling for Silver to arbitrate the dispute. The Raptors have made that request multiple times dating back to August, but the Knicks have objected multiple times.

A key point the Raptors have made throughout the lawsuit is that the alleged information that Azotam took wasn't confidential -- and they touched on that point again Monday.

"If the Knicks were genuinely concerned that there had been misuse of confidential and proprietary information, they would have accepted the Raptors' invitation to cooperate with the Knicks in undertaking an immediate and thorough investigation of the Knicks' allegations," the Raptors wrote in Monday's filing. "And they would have sought immediate relief from the Commissioner -- who could have ruled before the season even began -- rather than mired themselves in lengthy judicial proceedings."

The Raptors added, "While irrelevant for this motion, the evidence will show that not a single trade secret belonging to the Knicks was ever shared by Azotam with a single Raptors employee. Even if the claims are not sent to arbitration, there is no doubt they will inevitably be dismissed but only after they have harmed the Named Defendants' reputations."

In the Nov. 20 filing, the Knicks wrote that they intend to prove at trial that their damages exceed $10 million, while noting that they also intend to seek attorneys' fees. But in Monday's filing, the Raptors argued that the Knicks' claim for damages hasn't been offered in the complaint or substantiated in any way.

"To the contrary," the Raptors wrote, "the Knicks have offered the Court no theory or measurement of damages whatsoever -- because they have not been harmed but appear to have made this claim to generate press attention."

In recent interviews with ESPN, several legal experts called the lawsuit between the Knicks and Raptors virtually unprecedented and hard to predict.

Robert Boland, a professor of sports law at Seton Hall University School of Law who also maintains a practice focused on sports labor and governance issues, recently told ESPN of the case, "I don't see a settlement in this case, but I don't know if the Knicks are going to win. I don't really see a clear strategy. I think the attention is the desired outcome."