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Jeff Hornacek confirms Joakim Noah won’t return to Knicks

An altercation between the coach and the seldom-used big man likely was the final straw in their relationship.

Joakim Noah of the  Knicks looks on from

Joakim Noah of the  Knicks looks on from the bench against the Cavaliers at Madison Square Garden on Monday, Nov. 13, 2017 Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Jeff Hornacek wouldn’t comment on reports that he pushed Joakim Noah during their heated exchange last month in Denver. But Hornacek gave the strongest indications yet that Noah won’t be back with the Knicks.

“I think that is the plan,” Hornacek said following practice Tuesday night.

That was the expected outcome when the Knicks sent Noah away after he and Hornacek got into it at a practice Jan. 24 in Denver. Noah was upset that he played less than five minutes the night before in a lopsided loss to the Warriors when the Knicks were without Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle O’Quinn.

“That’s something that happened three weeks ago, four weeks ago,” Hornacek said. “We handled that thing with Jo. It’s not finalized because he’s still on the roster. We’ve dealt with that situation.

“There’s really nothing more to say about it, update it. We’ve moved on. He’s ready to move on and maybe have an opportunity somewhere else. That’s really our focus to go play Orlando. We have 23 games left. We’re trying to get our young guys to step it up. That’s kind of old story and all done with as far as I’m concerned.”

The Knicks initially said Noah was away from the time “for personal reasons.” About a week later, the Knicks said Noah wouldn’t be back “until further notice” and called it “a mutual decision.”

The Knicks tried to trade Noah, who signed a four-year, $72-million contract in July 2016, before the Feb. 8 deadline. If he’s not coming back, Knicks president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry will have to buy out Noah or waive him and stretch his contract.

Noah has two years and $37.8 million left on his contract after this season. Something could happen soon since players have to be signed by March 1 to be playoff eligible.

“Steve and Scott will have to handle that at the end,” Hornacek said. “That’s where we are with our team with our young guys and they’re going to be the ones playing.”

The Knicks haven’t suspended Noah, so he’s still getting paid.

“Things happen in practice, happen in meetings, happen in all kind of stuff,” Hornacek said. “We’ve dealt with that and that’s the end of it from us.”

New York Sports