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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

The Knicks-Raptors Beef Has Now Extended Into the WNBA

  • The Knicks and Raptors are in a lawsuit surrounding a former video coordinator. 
  • Despite the suit, the teams made one of the NBA’s bigger trades this season.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The WNBA’s new expansion franchise in Toronto, formally announced Thursday, was nearly approved by a clean sweep of the WNBA and NBA boards of governors.

Enter Jim Dolan. 

According to ESPN, the Knicks were the lone team between the two leagues to vote against expansion. (WNBA expansion needs approval from the NBA’s owners in addition to its own.) The WNBA approved the Toronto team 13–0, while the NBA was 29–1 in favor; there are a half-dozen ownership groups who own teams in both leagues. Dolan himself used to own the WNBA’s Liberty, a leadership tenure largely marked by utter neglect.

“The Liberty had been underinvested in,” Liberty co-owner Clara Wu Tsai recently told the How She Does It podcast. “It was a storied franchise. But the previous owners for whatever reason just decided they didn’t want to invest anymore, so they moved the team to play in Westchester County Center from Madison Square Garden.”

The Knicks are currently suing the Raptors, claiming a former New York video coordinator stole scouting reports, data, and confidential files when he left to work for Toronto. The team alleged that once the video coordinator received a job offer from the Raptors, he began “secretly forwarding proprietary information” from his work email to his personal one, which he then shared with the new employer. An additional court complaint accused Raptors first-year coach Darko Rajaković of directing the video coordinator to steal the information. 

Larry Tanenbaum, a member of Raptors ownership, first received the complaint from the Knicks in August 2023 and will be the majority owner of the new WNBA franchise. Oddly enough, despite the lawsuit, the two teams still made a major trade in December, sending OG Anunoby to the Raptors in exchange for Immanuel Quickley and Toronto native RJ Barrett in a trade both teams benefited from. The Knicks went on to be the two-seed in the Eastern Conference and won a playoff series for the second time in as many years before injuries left them short in their seven-game series loss to the Pacers. 

In a December court filing, the Raptors said it was a matter better suited for league arbitration, and that they were considering countersuing the Knicks for defamation. The filing called New York’s accusations of commissioner Adam Silver giving Toronto preferential treatment due to his relationship with Tanenbaum “baseless.”  

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