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Report: Knicks owner Dolan resigns from NBA roles amid Raptors lawsuit

Rich Graessle / Getty Images Sport / Getty

One month before filing a lawsuit against the Toronto Raptors, New York Knicks owner James Dolan resigned from his committee positions on the NBA's board of governors, reports ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

"Given all that has occurred lately, I have come to the conclusion that the NBA neither needs nor wants my opinion," Dolan wrote in a July letter to commissioner Adam Silver and the league's other 29 owners, according to Wojnarowski.

"My hope is that the Knicks will be treated equally and fairly as all other NBA teams," Dolan's memo read.

He continued: "As you know, I am very busy with all my duties at MSG family of companies. I need to apply my time where I can be most productive."

Dolan also resigned from the league's advisory/finance and media committees, Wojnarowski added. He no longer takes part in board of governor meetings and noted that Knicks general counsel Jamaal Lesane now represents the team at meetings. Dolan does, however, continue to hold voting power in league-wide matters on behalf of the organization.

The decision by the long-serving chairman of the Knicks came before a lawsuit was filed against the Raptors in August. Additional documents filed on Monday show that the Knicks seek more than $10 million in damages for the alleged theft of confidential files.

Filed at the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, the August lawsuit claims that former Knicks employee Ikechukwu Azotam sent the Raptors thousands of confidential files that include video scouting, play frequency reports, and other proprietary information.

The lawsuit also claims that Azotam, the Knicks' former assistant video coordinator, violated confidentiality stipulations of his employment agreement and that the Raptors "directed Azotam's actions and/or knowingly benefited from Azotam's wrongful acts," according to ESPN's Baxter Holmes.

In an Oct. 16 filing, the Raptors sought to dismiss the suit and have Silver arbitrate the dispute. The Knicks argued Monday that Silver's involvement would be a conflict of interest due to the commissioner's close relationship with Raptors governor Larry Tanenbaum.

"Tanenbaum serves as Silver's boss and exercises control over and heavily influences Silver's continued employment and salary," the suit read, according to Wojnarowski.

"Silver himself described Tanenbaum as 'not just my boss as the chairman of the board of governors, but he's very much a role model in my life,'" the Knicks' lawsuit added. "If Silver were to preside over the instant dispute, he would be arbitrating a case for his boss and ally."

Dolan's decision is the latest in a series of criticisms of Silver and the NBA. His was the sole vote against Michael Jordan's sale of the Charlotte Hornets and the WNBA awarding a group led by Rick Schnall and Gabe Plotkin an expansion franchise in San Francisco, according to Wojnarowski. He's also expressed issues with the league's revenue-sharing model, which requires large-market franchises like the Knicks to share revenues with smaller-market organizations.

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