Don't know if everyone is up to date on Season 9, but here is the latest that I know of. Yesterday, Sophia tweeted that she, Austin, Jana, Lisa, and Robert have officially signed on for a new season. Last night official word came out that Bethany has as well. I read that Stephen has said that he will come back to and I have heard nothing about Shantel, Jackson, and Lee. James had not signed on yet, and I read that people are speculating that he is waiting to see if the show is renewed. Ironically, his lack of signing may have to do with the show not being renewed yet (or so I heard).
That being said, here is what I would like to happen. The show gets brought back to do a final season. After being on the bubble for 8 seasons and given the storms this show has weathered, we the viewers and the people involved in the show, deserve a chance to see the show brought to a satisfying and natural conclusion. I know that it would also be really cool to see people; Deb, Karen, etc.; brought back over the course of the season (or for the series finale) to see where their characters ended up. I also know that Hilarie has expressed a lack of enthusiasm to play Peyton again, but I would like to think that she would come back for a known series finale with Chad just to show her appreciation to the fans.
If the show ends this year; assuming that the finale wraps things up nicely; I won't be seriously disappointed. My only fear is that they will be canceled with strings left dangling.