Toronto hints at countersuit in latest court filing

The New York Knicks and Toronto Raptors remain embroiled in a legal dispute, but that hasn’t prevented them from doing basketball business together. On Saturday, the two teams agreed to a blockbuster deal that will send RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley and a second-round pick to Toronto in exchange for OG Anunoby, Malachi Flynn and Precious Achiuwa.

In the latest court filing, the Raptors hinted at a countersuit for defamation, called the Knicks’ claim that NBA commissioner Adam Silver is too close to Maple Leaf Sports and entertainment chairman Larry Tanenbaum to serve as an arbitrator “baseless” and argued for the lawsuit, which alleges that Raptors video coordinator/player development coach Ike Azotam stole confidential and proprietary information from his former employer, to be dismissed.

In the reply, which was obtained by CBS Sports and filed on Dec. 11, after New York’s’ 136-130 victory against Toronto at Madison Square Garden, the Raptors:

Note that, after “the proper forum for this dispute” has been settled, the defendants “reserve the right to pursue counterclaims against the Knicks for the defamatory public statements they have made, including accusations of a ‘clear violation of criminal and civil law.'”
Claim the Knicks are “keen to stay in court as long as possible because this lawsuit attracts publicity and is directed at harming the Raptors, its head coach and members of his staff.” (Toronto coach Darko Rajakovic is one of several defendants named in the suit.)
Claim that Rajakovic “never needed, wanted, or saw a single piece of [the] Knicks’ proprietary information,” and that “not a single trade secret belonging to the Knicks was ever shared by Azotam with a single Raptors employee.”
Argue that Silver 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,” and that New York’s “aversion to his jurisdiction is simply because they know they will not like his determination.”
Liken the Knicks’ assertion that Silver is compromised to “a coach bemoaning an injury to his star player even before the game,” as “the Knicks seek to excuse their inevitable loss on the merits by attacking the integrity of the NBA Commissioner.” The Raptors describe the argument as both “outrageous” and “premature,” as the U.S. District Court should not, in Toronto’s view, “entertain an attack upon the qualifications or partiality of arbitrators until after the conclusion of the arbitration and the rendition of an award,” citing two previous cases.
In a written statement, an MSG spokesperson responded: “Hopefully the Court will make it clear that Toronto cannot escape the consequence of breaking the law by being a member of the NBA.”

New York filed its complaint in August. It alleged that Toronto “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.” Toronto filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit in October, calling it “a public relations stunt” and arguing that the matter was subject to arbitration by the NBA commissioner and should not go to court. New York responded to that motion in November, stating that Silver shouldn’t be allowed to resolve the dispute, citing both his relationship with Tanenbaum and that it was seeking more than $10 million in damages, the largest penalty the commissioner is allowed to impose.

In both the Raptors’ motion to dismiss the case and this reply in support of that motion, they argue that the information allegedly stolen by Azotam, which includes video and data from Synergy Sports, was not, in fact, confidential and proprietary.

“If the Knicks were genuinely concerned that there had been misuse of confidential and proprietary information,” they wrote in Monday’s filing, “they would have accepted the Raptors’ invitation to cooperate with the Knicks in undertaking an immediate and thorough investigation of the Knicks’ allegations. 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.”

Pistons finally snap NBA-record 28-game losing streak in win over Raptors

The Detroit Pistons can officially breathe a sigh of relief. After losing 28 consecutive games—the longest single-season losing streak in NBA history and tied for the longest overall losing streak the league had ever seen—the Pistons have won their third game of the season. On Saturday, Detroit bested the Toronto Raptors, 129-127, to officially snap the historic streak and get back in the win column.

Behind Cade Cunningham’s 30 points and 12 assists and some clutch shooting from Kevin Knox, Alec Burks and Bojan Bogdanovic the Pistons were able to finally put an end to this ignominious streak. In the process, Cunningham became the first Piston since Chauncey Billups to post a 30-point, 10-assist, zero-turnover game. With that, the Pistons will end 2023 with a record of 3-29, and while Detroit would have liked to see more wins in the win-loss column, it can help but be happy that 2024 will begin with a clean slate, and the team certainly feels it

“I’ve been in a ton of locker rooms my whole life, and that was a first to me,” head coach Monty Williams told reporters after the win. “It wasn’t relief. It was more like, ‘Thank God! Finally.'”

Believe it or not, the season actually began with a shred of promise for Detroit. The Pistons won two of their first three games this season and very nearly won their opener, losing by one on the road to the defending Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat. Things immediately went down hill from there, though, as the Pistons lost game after game after game. They made it through the entire month of November without notching a victory. Some of those losses, like a 19-point home defeat at the hands of the Washington Wizards and an eight-point home disappointment against the severely undermanned Utah Jazz, were among the most embarrassing any team will endure all season.

But the Pistons caught a bit of a break from a scheduling perspective on Saturday. While they had Friday night off, the Raptors played an incredibly competitive game on the road against the shorthanded Celtics. Boston ultimately won that one 120-118, and Toronto’s core of Pascal Siakam and Scottie Barnes all played at least 37 minutes in that loss. To make matters even more difficult for Toronto, the Raptors were shorthanded thanks to a blockbuster trade. Mere hours before tipoff, Toronto dealt OG Anunoby, Precious Achiuwa and Malachi Flynn to the New York Knicks. That left the Raptors sorely shorthanded. Detroit took advantage in the victory.

Detroit desperately needed this game if they were going to have any hope of breaking the streak before it approached the league’s longest streak of any kind—the 33-game winning streak built by the 1972 Los Angeles Lakers. Detroit will begin a four-game Western Conference road trip on Monday, and three of their opponents in that window, the Rockets, Warriors and Nuggets, figure to be difficult opponents. The fourth, the Jazz, are less imposing, but they are 6-4 in their last 10 and have a strong home-court advantage due to the altitude in Utah. Detroit’s best chance at a win after this game would have come in a Jan. 10 showdown with the 5-26 San Antonio Spurs.

Now, when that game arrives, the Pistons won’t have to worry about their historic losing streak. They may be trying to avoid some other dubious markers, and they’re still seven wins away from ensuring they don’t post the worst record in an 82-game season in NBA history, but for now at least, the Pistons can hold their heads high. They have officially begun a one-game winning streak, and if they’ve learned anything over the past two months, it’s that streaks can last a whole lot longer than anyone expected.

 10 ways sports world changed in two months between Detroit’s wins

The Detroit Pistons’ historic 28-game losing streak finally came to an end on Saturday with a 129-127 victory over the Toronto Raptors. Now, this young team can put a miserable two months behind them and focus on taking some meaningful steps forward in their rebuilding process.

From Oct. 28 through Dec. 28, the Pistons lost 28 consecutive games, which surpassed the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers and 2013-14 Philadelphia 76ers for the most consecutive losses in one season, and matched the all-time mark, which was set by the Sixers on either side of the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.

Ironically, the Pistons actually started the season well. They lost by just one point to the Miami Heat on opening night, then beat the Charlotte Hornets and Chicago Bulls, suggesting that perhaps this would be the season that this young roster showed its promise. Instead, it spiraled out of control. Even after the win over the Raptors, they have the worst record in the league at 3-29.

Now that their skid as stopped, here’s a look at what happened in the world of sports in the 63 days between Pistons wins.

  1. Ja returns from suspension, already has more wins than Pistons
    The NBA suspended Grizzlies star Ja Morant for the first 25 games of the season after he flashed a gun on Instagram multiple times earlier this year. His first game back was on Dec. 19, when he hit a game-winner at the buzzer to beat the Pelicans. Since then, he’s gone on to lead the Grizzlies to wins over the Pacers and Hawks, and another over the Pelicans. The Grizzlies are 4-2 with Morant in the lineup, and have more wins with him than the Pistons have all season.
  2. Draymond drama
    Green is currently suspended indefinitely after hitting Suns big man Jusuf Nurkic in the face during their Dec. 12 meeting. That was the third time that the Warriors star has been ejected this season for violent acts and the second time he’s been suspended. Previously, he had been tossed for, in part, shoving Donovan Mitchell into the stands on Nov. 11, and for putting Rudy Gobert in a chokehold on Nov. 15. He was suspended five games after the Gobert incident. For the season, Green has as many ejections as the Pistons have wins.
  3. KD moves up multiple spots on scoring list
    Kevin Durant began the season in 13th place on the all-time scoring list, and passed Hakeem Olajuwon in the Suns’ second game of the season. That was actually on Oct. 26, just prior to the Pistons’ Oct. 28 win. However, Durant hasn’t stopped there. Since then he has moved up two more spots into 10th, passing Elvin Hayes and Moses Malone in the process. For the season, he’s moved up as many spots as the Pistons have wins.
  4. The entire In-Season Tournament
    The NBA’s inaugural IST began on Nov. 3 with the first day of group stage games, and concluded on Dec. 9 with the Lakers’ win over the Pacers in the championship game in Las Vegas. The Pistons, of course, did not manage a win during that entire five-week stretch and were 0-4 in their IST group play games with a point differential of minus-45.
  5. The Detroit Lions won six games
    Detroit’s sporting history is unfortunately littered with ignominious records, including the Lions’ 0-16 season in 2008, which remains the only time an NFL team has gone winless since the schedule was expanded to 16 games. The Lions, though, are no longer the city’s punching bag. They clinched first place in the NFC North at 11-4, and will be heading back to the playoffs for the first time since 2016. Six of those wins came during the Pistons’ losing streak, which, of course, is incredible since they only play once a week.
  6. The Rangers won their final three World Series games
    Shifting to baseball, the Rangers won their first championship in franchise history last season, defeating the Diamondbacks in five games. Their final three wins in the World Series came on Oct. 30, Oct. 31 and Nov. 1. Thus, the Rangers won as many World Series games during the Pistons’ losing streak as the Pistons have wins all season.
  7. The Dodgers spent over $1 billion in free agency
    The Pistons’ losing streak went on so long that baseball shifted from the World Series to free agency. The latter has been highlighted by the Dodgers’ unfathomable spending spree, which has surpassed the $1 billion mark with historic deals for Japanese stars Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto.
  8. Caitlin Clark scored 432 points
    The 2023-24 NCAA college basketball season didn’t tip-off until Nov. 6, nine days after the Pistons won on Oct. 28. During the 28-game losing streak, Iowa star Caitlin Clark, the reigning Naismith Player of the Year, poured in 397 points over 14 games to move up to fifth place on the all-time scoring list.
  9. 36 college football bowl games were played
    When the Pistons won on Oct. 28, it was still the middle of college football’s regular season. During their losing streak, the regular season came and went, conference championship games were played, the Heisman Trophy was handed out to LSU’s Jayden Daniels and bowl season kicked off. In between the Pistons’ wins, 38 of the 43 bowl games were played.
  10. Connor Bedard scored 12 goals
    Bedard was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NHL Draft, and entered the league with immense hype that he has thus far lived up to for the Blackhawks. He has 32 points in 35 games to lead all rookies, including 12 goals during the Pistons’ losing streak. The most impressive of which came on Dec. 23, when he scored a lacrosse-style goal from behind the net while the Pistons were losing to the Nets.

Knicks hand Miles McBride three-year, $13 million extension in wake of OG Anunoby trade

The New York Knicks made a massive move on Saturday when they traded RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley in a package for Toronto Raptors forward OG Anunoby, but they followed it up with a much smaller one. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Knicks have extended reserve guard Miles “Deuce” McBride with a three-year, $13 million deal.

The move makes plenty of strategic sense for the Knicks. McBride, 23, the No. 36 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, has shown promise in what little playing time he has received. He played at least 20 minutes only eight times all of last season, but he scored in double-digit figures in half of those games. The issue for McBride has been New York’s depth. With Quickley, Jalen Brunson, Quentin Grimes and, now, Donte DiVincenzo in their backcourt, the Knicks just didn’t have minutes available for him.

But now that Quickley and Barrett are gone, the Knicks have some minutes available in their backcourt. Those minutes will likely go to McBride, and the Knicks have inked him at a price that would be a bargain even for an average reserve. The hope is that McBride will be far better and that the Knicks will have locked up an important player at a minuscule price.

In college at West Virginia, McBride made his name as a defender. Though he is only 6-foot-1, he has a ridiculous 6-foot-9 wingspan that makes him valuable both on the ball and off of it. His offense has steadily improved in the NBA, but he made only 28.2% of his 3-pointers in his first two seasons. That is going to be a problem for a Knicks team that has emphasized shooting this season. He’s 7-for-17 on the year from deep, a sample far too small to be meaningful long-term.

Quickley was expected to command a contract in the range of $25 million per year in free agency. McBride is not nearly as accomplished as Quickley, but at the price the Knicks are paying him, he won’t need to be. The Knicks may not have one of the best reserve guards in the NBA anymore, but with this deal, they’ve locked in a replacement they hope will find ways to contribute to a far cheaper deal.

Tyrese Haliburton makes history with career-high 23 assists, gets revenge on Knicks TV announcer

Tyrese Haliburton’s breakout season continued on Saturday night when he went off for 22 points, five rebounds and a career-high 23 assists in the Indiana Pacers’ 140-126 win over the New York Knicks. In the process, he tied the Pacers’ franchise record for assists and joined Magic Johnson and John Stockton in a highly exclusive club.

“I didn’t know 23 was the franchise record otherwise I would’ve hunted to get 24,” Haliburton said. “Assists don’t happen without guys making shots. … Guys have to make shots for me to get assists and we’re doing that at a high clip right now.”

After a bit of a post-In Season Tournament slump, the Pacers have now won three games in a row. The turnaround is thanks in large part to their main man, who has been orchestrating their offense to perfection, and making history in the process. Over the three games, Haliburton is averaging 25.3 points and 17.7 assists, and has turned it over just five times — an astounding 10.6/1 assist-to-turnover ratio.

“His offensive level is beyond elite,” Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said. “He’s put a lot of work in these last two summers. Reads, being able to create rim pressure and to increase his range, and so, teams are in a real bind. He causes major problems.”

Most notably, he became the first player in over three decades to have back-to-back 20-point, 20-assist games, and just the third player ever. The last player to do so was Stockton on March 1 and March 3, 1990. Johnson, meanwhile, is the only other player to pull off the feat, and did so on Dec. 18 and 19, 1994.

“That’s fire, that’s pretty cool,” Haliburton said. “Any time your name is brought up with legends of the game it’s a blessing and it’s awesome.”


📊 22 PTS, 23 AST (career-high)
👀 Most 20 AST games in Pacers history
3⃣ Third player ever with back-to-back 20-PT, 20-AST games, joining John Stockton and Magic Johnson

— NBA (@NBA) December 31, 2023
If you look solely at assists, Haliburton is the fourth player to have consecutive 20-assist games, joining Johnson, Stockton and Kevin Porter.

In the process of his record-setting night, Haliburton also got a bit of revenge on Knicks broadcaster Wally Szczerbiak, who called the Pacers guard a “wannabe All-Star” last season. While Szczerbiak apologized on the broadcast — “I was dead wrong” he said — Haliburton clearly hadn’t forgotten the matter. Late in the game, he stared Szczerbiak down and had some words for him.

Tyrese Haliburton had some words for Knicks broadcaster Wally Szczerbiak after Szczerbiak called Haliburton a “wanna-be all-star” last season 👀

— Knicks Fan TV 🏀🎥📺🏁 (@KnicksFanTv) December 31, 2023
Asked if Szczerbiak’s comments motivated him heading into this game, Haliburton said “yes,” but noted he was more focused on getting the win against a Knicks team that is close to them in the standings.

Thanks to their recent hot streak, the Pacers are back above .500 for the season at 17-14. They are still stuck in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, though, which has them outside of the top-six and a guaranteed playoff spot. The Pacers haven’t been to the postseason since 2018, and are looking to snap one of the longest droughts in franchise history.

‘What do we have replay for if even the replay gets it wrong?’

LeBron James turned 39 on Saturday, and he very nearly gifted the Los Angeles Lakers a miraculous road win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. The comeback started in earnest when James was fouled by Jaden McDaniels with 31 seconds to play, and as a present to the NBA legend, Minnesota’s star defender also picked up a technical foul in the process. That allowed James’ layup to turn a seven-point game into a one-possession three-point game.

The Lakers then forced a stop on a Mike Conley missed 3-pointer, and James scampered down the floor to try to tie the game in transition. He put up a jumper with mere seconds on the clock and… swish! Tie game, 109 apiece with 2.1 left on the clock. Or so we thought.

LeBron thought he tied the game for the Lakers with this clutch shot Getty Images
Instead, the officials called it a 2-pointer instead of a 3.

I’ve watched it 100 times and I still can’t tell.

— Sam Quinn (@SamQuinnCBS) December 31, 2023
It was one of the closest “toe on the line” reviews you’ll ever see. Even with a closeup, it still isn’t fully clear whether or not James had a toe on the line.

LeBron after the review:

— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) December 31, 2023
That uncertainty is what ultimately led to the final decision from the officials. “The play was ruled a two-point field goal on the floor during live play. After video review, there wasn’t clear and conclusive evidence to overturn it from a two to a three, and that’s why it stood as a two-point field goal,” crew chief Tony Brothers told the pool reporter after the game.

As frustrating as the call was, it didn’t rule the Lakers out of the game. They were down only one point with 2.1 seconds remaining, and they still had a timeout. Anthony Edwards made only one of his two free throws on the other end, and the Lakers drew up an inbounds play to tie or win with 1.4 on the clock. This time, there were no officiating issues. James himself cost the Lakers their chance by failing to get a shot off before the buzzer hit.

Can’t remember the last time I saw LeBron make an end-of-game mistake like this.

— Sam Quinn (@SamQuinnCBS) December 31, 2023
James remained upset after the game ended. “It’s obviously a 3,” James told reporters after the game. “My foot is behind the line. You can see the space between the front of my foot and the 3-point line. You can clearly see a white, the wood on the floor is the space in between the front of my foot and the 3-point line. Stevie Wonder could see that, champ.” He went on to muse “What do we have replay for if even the replay gets it wrong?”

The loss dropped the Lakers to 17-16 on the season and 3-7 since they won the NBA’s first-ever In-Season Tournament. Things won’t get easier from here, as the Lakers still have another half of this back-to-back to play as they travel to New Orleans to face the Pelicans on Sunday to close out the calendar year.

James has spent his career defying Father Time, but on the night in which the final year of his 30’s began, he looked just a bit too old to help the Lakers slay the Timberwolves.

Former NBA All-Star Goran Dragic retires after 15 seasons with Heat, Suns and other NBA teams

Former NBA All-Star Goran Dragic announced his retirement on Saturday after 15 seasons with seven different franchises. Dragic, who most recently appeared with the Milwaukee Bucks last season, was best known for his time with the Miami Heat and Phoenix Suns.

The 37-year-old is expected to participate in a two-day farewell event in Slovenia in August of 2024, which will include a game, according to reports out of his native country. Further details regarding the celebration for Dragic will be announced on Jan. 4, when he will speak at a press conference along with Zoran Janković, the mayor of Ljubljana — Slovenia’s capital and Dragic’s hometown.

After turning pro at the age of 17, Dragic enjoyed a number of successful seasons in Slovenia and Spain before declaring for the NBA Draft. He was selected No. 45 overall in 2008 by the San Antonio Spurs, but was traded to the Suns a few days later for Malik Hairston, cash and a 2009 second-round draft pick.

He played sparingly in his first few seasons, but started to make a name for himself in the 2010 playoffs, when he helped the Suns reach the Western Conference finals. Even so, he was traded to the Houston Rockets at the 2011 deadline, though that turned out to be a short-lived partnership. When Dragic became a free agent in 2012, he re-signed with the Suns.

His second stint in Phoenix is when his career really started to take off. In 2014, he won Most Improved Player and made the first and only All-NBA appearance of his career — a 3rd Team selection — after averaging 20.9 points and 5.9 assists per game on 50.5% shooting from the field. The Suns missed the playoffs that season despite winning 48 games.

The next season, Dragic was once again on the move. This time, he was traded to the Miami Heat along with his brother, Zoran. In the summer of 2015, he cashed in on his success, signing a five-year, $90 million deal, which was the biggest contract of his career. With the Heat, he made his first and only All-Star appearance in 2018 and helped the team make the Finals during the 2020 bubble season. Unfortunately, he suffered a plantar fascia injury in Game 1 and missed four of the six games as the Heat were defeated by the Los Angeles Lakers.

Ahead of the 2021 season, Dragic was traded to the Toronto Raptors in the Kyle Lowry deal, which began his odyssey around the league. Over the next few seasons he suited up for the Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls and Bucks.

In addition to his NBA career, Dragic had plenty of success on the international stage. Most notably, he led Slovenia to its first ever EuroBasket title in 2017 and won MVP of the tournament.

Dragic finishes his career with averages of 13.3 points, three rebounds and 4.7 assists across 946 games played (530 starts)

The Pistons have finally won, so where does Detroit’s 28-game losing streak rank in NBA history?

The Detroit Pistons have finally won a basketball game. Yes, you read that right. After 28 consecutive losses and numerous records broken along the way, the Pistons are finally back in the win column after beating the Toronto Raptors, 129-127, on Saturday afternoon. The win puts a bow on one of the worst stretches across all professional sports in recent memory.

With 28 straight defeats, the Pistons tied the Philadelphia 76ers for the NBA’s all-time record of consecutive losses. Unfortunately for Detroit, it compiled such an ignominious record in one season as the Sixers compiled their losses on either side of the 2014-15 and 2015-16 campaigns. Previously, Detroit’s loss against the Brooklyn Nets passed the 2013-14 76ers and 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers for most consecutive losses in one season with 27.

This season, the Pistons have the league’s worst record at 3-29. While they’ve amassed a talented group of lottery picks in recent years, they’ve struggled to smooth out their offensive struggles. After a home defeat to the Utah Jazz during the losing stretch, fans chanted for owner Tom Gores to sell the team. He responded in an interview a few days later by saying the fans’ chants were “ridiculous,” while also making vague promises of change.