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There was a sense of excitement surrounding the Suns in training camp because of a new addition ( Grant Hill) and the eternal promise of a championship season (as there had been the last two years). But there was also an unspoken apprehension, a lingering let's-not-talk-about-the-elephant-in-the-room feeling.
That would be a result of the late-September trade demand of All-Star forward Shawn Marion, 29, who in his ninth season is the longest-tenured Sun. But let's not forget that in asking to get out of the Valley of the Sun, the Matrix was responding to the team's efforts to unload him: It was Marion who vetoed a summer trade to the Celtics by saying that he would not sign an extension with Boston. That said. . . .