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USA TODAY

Sometimes a fine can be money well spent. Especially when a team is trying to retain an MVP.

Just ask the Milwaukee Bucks, whom the NBA fined $50,000 last month after general manager Jon Horst said the Bucks planned to offer Giannis Antetokounmpo a supermax contract a year from now.

The Bucks delivered messages.

One to Antetokounmpo, letting him know they’re willing to pay him a quarter of a billion dollars to continue his career in Milwaukee. And one to other teams, letting them know they’re fixated on keeping Antetokounmpo and extending this run with the goal of winning at least one championship.

Antetokounmpo can become a free agent after the 2020-21 season or he can sign a five-year, $253 million supermax extension next summer. If he waited to sign with another team, the max deal would be for four years, $161.3 million.

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At Milwaukee’s media day, Antetokounmpo said it wasn’t fair to the team to ask him questions about the supermax extension or his future.

“I feel like if you have a great team and our goal is to win a championship and be the last team standing and get better every day, I think it’s disrespectful toward my teammates talking about my free agency and what I’m going to do,” he said. “When the time is right we’re all going to talk about it. I don’t think the time is right right now.”

While questions directed at him about that may be kept to a minimum, the topic isn’t going away. Antetokounmpo’s potential free agency is one of the NBA’s most compelling story lines. Will he remain with the Bucks or seek titles elsewhere?

So far, the Bucks have done everything right, starting with taking a chance on the skinny teen with the No. 15 pick in the 2013 draft. Multiple players in that draft class picked ahead of Antetokounmpo, including overall No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett, aren’t in the NBA anymore.

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Milwaukee has surrounded him with talented players, coaches and executives, too. Coach Mike Budenholzer was named Coach of the Year and Horst was named Executive of the Year.

While the natural talent is there, the Bucks have also helped develop Antetokounmpo into an MVP and elite defender. At just 24 years old – not even the prime of his career – he is in position to win at least one more MVP and could win Defensive Player of the Year, too.

Horst has continued to tinker with the roster to keep the core intact (though they lost Malcolm Brogdon in free agency), adding Wesley Matthews, Kyle Korver and Robin Lopez. Plus, Donte DiVincenzo returns healthy.

Khris Middleton is an All-Star, and Eric Bledsoe and George Hill share point guard duties. Ersan Ilyasova and Brook Lopez are back, too.

“We brought back a big part of the group; we believe in continuity,” Horst told reporters. “… This group looks like they’re growing, looks like they’re getting better, looks like they fit and they make sense and that we can compete and sustain success for a long period of time with this group and that’s been the goal.”

If there’s any pressure on the front office and ownership, it’s to at least maintain the status quo – competing for a championship, which means reaching the conference finals and beyond. 

The Bucks also have another major advantage – they have created a family and a trustworthy environment in the only American city Antetokounmpo, who grew up in Grece, really knows. There is value in that, though it doesn’t mean Antetokounmpo should have blind loyalty.

But when you add up what the Bucks have done for Antetokounmpo, including building a championship contender, there are a lot of reasons why signing an extension makes sense for him.

Follow USA TODAY Sports columnist Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt

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