With the start of the free-agent negotiating period only hours away, here's the latest information culled from executives, agents, and other people in the know:
* As expected, Carlos Boozer thought better of declining his $12.7 million player option and will return to the Jazz. But with Utah determined to keep restricted free agent Paul Millsap, Boozer's stay in Utah could be short-lived. One executive said the prospect of Boozer staying on an expiring contract could be a precursor to an in-season trade.
* It seems like only five minutes ago when Kobe Bryant went on that summertime rant about wanting out of L.A. Now, given the chance to terminate his contract and become a free agent, Bryant reportedly will stay put. Will Bryant want to hold onto the leverage of becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2010? Not likely, said a league source who predicted that Bryant and the Lakers will agree on an extension that will give Bryant security and every bit as much money as he would get by leaving as a free agent this summer or next. It would also eliminate the one factor that has always followed Kobe: drama.
* The Pistons are the most obvious place for Ben Gordon for the most obvious reason: They have the money to pay him. Staying within the division would give Gordon the satisfaction of sticking it to Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. But how do the Pistons make the pieces fit? By trading either Rodney Stuckey or Richard Hamilton. One source said the best bet is that Detroit agrees to a deal with Gordon first and moves either Hamilton or Stuckey later.
* Toronto is the most sensible destination basketball-wise for Hedo Turkoglu, but the Raptors will have to move some other parts first to make it the most financially sensible destination. Portland also has interest, although the Blazers are believed to be focused first on solving their point-guard problem, which could be accomplished by signing Andre Miller.
* Don't discount Sacramento when it comes to Turkoglu, one rival exec urged. There's familiarity from Turkoglu's previous stint with the Kings, and Sacramento is desperate to generate buzz with a big-ticket player. Think Tyreke Evans and Turkoglu running the side pick-and-roll until the cowbells come home.
* David Lee's days in New York are effectively over, said a source who believes that agent Mark Bartelstein will find the Knicks' choking point and exceed it by a dollar in negotiations with Oklahoma City and/or Memphis. "It's a tough loss for New York, but they don't want to screw up their 2010 plan," the person said. The money will be there for Lee, especially now that Boozer is off the market. The only reason for Lee to think twice is the added bang for the buck he's gotten out of playing in New York. He won't be a known commodity anymore in OKC or Memphis.
* I suspect that Jason Kidd is trying to use the Knicks as leverage to get a better deal from Dallas. Sure enough, Mavs owner Mark Cuban hurried off to the Big Apple to beat the Knicks to the punch and meet with Kidd at the first possible moment -- 12:01 a.m. ET Wednesday.
* Like Boozer, Jazz center Mehmet Okur will stay in Utah after deciding not to exercise his early termination option. Okur will get $9 million this season and will be an unrestricted free agent in 2010 -- unless he agrees to an extension.